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Android security issue fixed…but are we impressed?


When you release a new, supposedly life changing, platform into the mobile handset battleground, you hope for glowing reviews, award chatter and even possibly the hope of bringing together every man and woman alive into a melting pot of peace and unity.  What you most definitely don’t want is a security flaw discovered shortly after release.  Unfortunately for Google’s Android this is exactly what happened.  Whoops…

If a G1 user was to access a ‘booby-trapped’ website then the security issue would become apparent.  Websites like these would be able to install an application onto the handset with the user remaining none the wiser.  An application such as one that records keystrokes could obviously be devastating for the user, allowing the hacker to observe passwords for websites the user visits on the phone.

Caused by Google mistakenly incorporating an older, defective module when the final software release was built, the flaw was considered a major security issue.  However, the patch, which was released on Saturday, is said to totally cure the fault.

The issue was already well known throughout the open-source community and had even already been repaired by the software owners, but due to what appears to be an oversight on Google’s part, the most recent version of the software wasn’t shipped, allowing the weakness to skulk into the depths of the Android operating system.

The patch was sent to each phone as a message with the option to install.  By choosing to install the patch, the new software was downloaded quickly and it efficiently installed automatically.  The upgrade is said to have been more of a test of Android’s ability to deal with vulnerability and rectification than about Google’s technical capability to upgrade the phone.

Google’s hopes of releasing a perfect operating system into the world were damaged by three men, Charlie Miller, Mark Daniel, and Jake Honoroff of Independent Security Evaluators who discovered the security flaw and classified it as a serious problem. Subsequently Google, understandably, played down chatter of the issue, appearing even to bring into question the reliability of the discoverers.

Issues like these will add cause for concern for users of the ‘Google Phone’ and it won’t be long before we hear cries for anti-virus software’s to be released for the operating system.  However, we will still be in the dark as to whether the ‘security issue’ was a real cause for concern or simply an elaborate example of how Google will be on the ball when it comes to fixing problems in the future.  We have all witnessed other such companies try and force positive spin on problems like this but as consumers don’t we feel it’s about time we observed a bit more transparency when it comes to recognition and rectification?  Although the issue has now been put right, it takes a stretch of the imagination to be impressed by Google’s handling of the situation and we are left with more questions, and with them come worries, for the future of the Android operating system.


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