Most Android Users Have Crummy Software

DARPA-funded security service for mobile devices searches for cracks in the Gingerbread version of Android’s operating system.

by / July 26, 2012
Image from Shutterstock

About two-thirds of Android smartphone users are using an outdated version of the operating system, reported Dark Reading. Start-up Duo Security launched a service on July 23 that will attempt to mitigate the security risk represented by a large population of users using outdated system software.

Partially funded by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency under the Cyber Fast Track program, the service, called X-Ray, will help Duo Security gather information and discover the nature and scope of the widespread security problem. The application scans users’ phones for vulnerable system components and sends unknown system files back to the company for analysis. The application also collects data like device model, operating system version and carrier information, which Duo Security puts into a database to be analyzed.

Since the Gingerbread platform was released in late 2010, Android smartphones have received two major updates that add features and fix security issues, but a majority of users are still using Gingerbread. This is an Android problem – security fixes for computer operating systems are often released within hours.

"It's not like patches for the vulnerabilities don't exist," Duo Security CTO Jon Oberheide said. "In many cases, they've been around for six months to a year, but they just have not been rolled out. We hope the data can provide a spark to get the attention of carriers. We hope that X-Ray will eventually result in better security and awareness for all mobile users."