Is your Android phone hiding security updates from you?

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That's according to a two-year-long study by Security Research Labs (SRL), finding a so-called "patch gap", Wired reports.

Google is known for rolling out security updates from time to time for Android smartphones.

These smartphone makers have created a false sense of security among their users. Thankfully, there's an app called "SnoopSnitch" that allows you to check if your phone is running the security patches that the phone claims to be running...

This morning, a report came out explaining that a research firm discovered some Android OEMs were lying to customers about their device's current security patch.

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Android phone makers could also potentially "miss a patch or two by accident", according to SRL's Karsten Nohl.

The whole process that takes place during the test may result in omitting a security patch. Out of the 1,200 phones that were tested by the firm, including devices from Google (the primary source for updates to Pixel phones), Samsung, HTC, Motorola, and TCL, the issue impacted even the flagship models from the likes of Samsung and Sony.

One method used by certain Android phone makers includes changing the date of an earlier patch to deceive users into thinking they have the latest security patch.

Security patches on third-party devices has been an ongoing issue for Google and its Android operating system. "Probably for marketing reasons, they just set the patch level to nearly an arbitrary date, whatever looks best", Karsten Nohl, Security Research Labs founder, told the publication.

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"We found several vendors that didn't install a single patch but changed the patch date forward by several months", Nohl further revealed. While phones making use of Qualcomm's Snapdragon and Samsung's Exynos are less likely to miss out on patches, those running on MediaTek chipsets were found to be missing out on a lot more (9 on average). The company further stated that in some cases, patches might have been missing because the phone vendors responded by simply removing the vulnerable feature from the phone rather than patch it.

LG, Motorola, Huawei, and HTC missed 3-4 patches, and Nokia, OnePlus, and Xiaomi skipped 1-3 patches on an average.

While many of these missed security patches may not be inherently risky in isolation, hackers typically chain together multiple security holes to reach their goal, taking over devices and stealing data.

Google told Wired, "some of the devices SRL analyzed may not have been Android certified devices, meaning they're not held to Google's standards of security". We're working with them to improve their detection mechanisms to account for situations where a device uses an alternate security update instead of the Google suggested security update.

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"Built-in platform protections, such as application sandboxing, and security services, such as Google Play Protect, are just as important", he said.

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