Motherboard security journalist, Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai has never had any love for Apple but in the last few days he has found 950 million reasons to dump Android for an iPhone.
“As you might have heard, a security researcher revealed on Monday that a series of bugs deep inside Android’s source code allow hackers to hack and spy on users with a simple multimedia message. If you’re worried your Android device might be vulnerable to these bugs, collectively known as Stagefright, well, I’ve got bad news for you. It probably is. In fact, as many as 950 million phones likely are,” Franceschi-Bicchierai writes.
Apple hater runs to Apple
The journalist says he is “antagonistic” to Apple products. He swore he’d never own an iPhone and has been a loyal Android user for years – despite recognizing that when security patches are created for the platform they must pass through both the device manufacturer and ISP before they reach the user. Security updates don’t always reach everyone – but with millions of users vulnerable to Stagefright, he finds this no longer acceptable.
“When there’s a bug on iOS, Apple patches it and can push an update to all iPhone users as soon as it’s ready, no questions asked,” he adds, recommending Android users “give up, switch to Apple and buy an iPhone.”
Now I’ve discussed the problems with Android fragmentation and security before (and been flamed for doing so), but the departure of such a high-profile Android user (and Apple hater) should surely make you think?
Problems widely known
It is not as if the Android ecosystem has not known it has problems. You’ll find a clear record of security problems going back years – even as far back as 2010 -- and nothing much has changed. In March 2013, F-Secure warned that the platform accounted for 96 percent of all mobile malware. Shocking? More shocking is in January reports claimed 98 percent of mobile malware now targets the platform. Why?
Some argue it is because of the size of the Android market – all those handsets make attractive targets. So why – in five years -- have the stakeholders that comprise the platform failed to get their act together in order to create a rapid way to react to these threats?
I think it’s criminal.
What matters to me is the utter disservice being done to Android users by the hardware and software manufacturers taking their money, loyalty and personal data (where the value really sits) while paying scant regard to their safety and security.
The largely acquiescent media doesn’t help. Certainly, problems are reported but where is the outcry demanding Android double down on security? After all, iOS proves is possible to create a much more secure mass-market mobile platform?
Diversity is important
Look, I know I’m an Apple-focused author, but I welcome platform diversity. I think competition in technology nurtures innovation. I say we need diversity so consumers have choice. I argue that diversity makes these life-changing technologies available to a wide swathe of users with different budgets. It’s a good thing.
I do not believe such diversity should come at the cost of your security. Did we learn nothing in the ghastly Windows era when you caught a virus just going online? I think it is deeply irresponsible of all parties involved – from the OS developer to the hardware manufacturer that security remains such an issue on the platform. They have had years – years – to pull themselves together.
The bottom line is that stakeholders in the Android ecosystem must be forced (by law, if necessary) to immediately address the platform’s vast security weaknesses. On the basis of what I’ve seen so far, I doubt this will ever happen, but you have a right to know why it should.
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