Feeds

HTC settles with FTC over smartphone security holes

Promises to do better next time

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced a settlement with smartphone-maker HTC over complaints that its handsets are riddled with security failings, and the government watchdog says it will check on compliance for ... wait for it ... the next 20 years.

The FTC complaint claims that when HTC customized Android and Window Phone code for its smartphones, it made little or no effort to address user security. The coding was claimed to be sloppy, HTC didn't do any penetration testing on its handsets or train engineers in secure coding techniques, and the company's staff used coding methods that are well-known to be poor security practices.

As a result, the personal information of millions of Android users was put at risk by HTC's shoddy programming, the FTC claims, saying that applications were able to mask the level of data they were harvesting from end users. The FTC also cites security issues from the use of monitoring software by Carrier IQ, and HTC Loggers on HTC's Android and Windows Phone handsets.

Meanwhile, HTC's own user manuals contain "deceptive representations", the FTC charged, and it said that the manufacturer's Tell HTC application was at fault, as well. Those flaws could allow access to not only a customer's private data, but also their GPS location and the content of text messages.

Under the terms of the deal HTC admits no guilt, but the list of things that it has agreed to do suggests that there wasn't much security work being done by the Taiwanese manufacturer. The full settlement gives the company seven core tasks which you would have thought it would have done already.

These include actually assigning someone in the company to be responsible for security, doing a risk assessment on its current coding practices and handsets, designing safeguards against flawed code, and training in-house staff on good security practices, such as where to get updates and patches.

HTC also has to issue patches for the security holes it does have (Android 4.0 users will already have them, according to some reports), hire an independent third party with professional computer security credentials to check on the new internal processes, and submit a full report on progress to the FTC every other year for the next 20.

"The settlement with HTC America is part of the FTC's ongoing effort to ensure that companies secure the software and devices that they ship to consumers," said the government organization in a statement. For the next 30 days, members of the public can add their comments to the settlement here – keep it clean, please. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.