Feeds

HTC settles with FTC over smartphone security holes

Promises to do better next time

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

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. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
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
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Black Hat anti-Tor talk smashed by lawyers' wrecking ball
Unmasking hidden users is too hot for Carnegie-Mellon
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'
Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
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.
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.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.