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There have recently been a growing number of vulnerabilities associated with mobile operating systems that threaten the security and integrity of a user's device

May 11, 2016

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced this week that it is joining forces with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to better understand, and ultimately to improve, the security of mobile devices.

FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Chief Jon Wilkins has sent a letter to mobile carriers asking questions about their processes for reviewing and releasing security updates for mobile devices. At the same time, the FTC has ordered eight mobile device manufacturers to provide the agency with information about how they issue security updates to address vulnerabilities in smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices.

"As consumers and businesses turn to mobile broadband to conduct ever more of their daily activities, the safety of their communications and other personal information is directly related to the security of the devices they use," the FCC said in a press release.

According to the agency, there have recently been a growing number of vulnerabilities associated with mobile operating systems that threaten the security and integrity of a user's device, including "Stagefright" in the Android operating system, which may affect almost 1 billion Android devices globally.

The FCC stresses that consumers may be left unprotected, for long periods of time or even indefinitely, by any delays in patching vulnerabilities once they are discovered. To date, the agency says that operating system providers, original equipment manufacturers, and mobile service providers have responded to address vulnerabilities as they arise. There are, however, significant delays in delivering patches to actual devices—and that older devices may never be patched.

The FCC says that it will continue its longstanding partnership and work cooperatively with the FTC on this issue. Responses to the letters will inform discussions with the mobile device industry about possible solutions.

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