When it comes to buying a new smartphone, the choices are both many and few. At one end of the scale is Apple’s iconic iPhone; a more secure platform that boasts the highest quality apps and a user friendly ecosystem of integration and accessories..
At the other end of the scale is the Android house that Google built; a veritable cesspool of evil and toxic technology waste which has infected most of the world’s smartphone users. In between the two are Windows Phone, BlackBerry, and a few other also rans scrambling to make a living in a world that has passed them by. Which would you buy?
Evil Is Fragmented
New to the world is a security vulnerability called Quadrooter which affects nearly one billion Android smartphones, but just one of many such vulnerabilities that have infected Google’s flagging flagship OS. What can it do? Anything a hacker wants. When will it get fixed? Soon, says Google. But only on a few Android flagship models which allow users to update or upgrade their devices. Hundreds of millions of Android smartphones are at risk of being hacked and yet will never get patches to fix the vulnerability.
One tech writer said the vulnerability is so malicious that there are only three ways to get rid of it.
Buy A New Smartphone (ostensibly a new Android device that can be upgraded to fix the security hole; not mentioned is the option to buy an iPhone which has less than 1-percent of Android’s security vulnerabilities and which can be upgraded easily).
Upgrade Android (only works if your Android smartphone is one of the few that can actually received an upgrade; most cannot which explains why the latest, Android 6.0 Marshmallow runs on only 10-percent or so of Android devices, while iOS 9.x, the latest from Apple, runs on nearly 90-percent of iPhones and iPads– that’s a fragmentation issue you get when you buy evil).
Smash It With A Hammer (that will eliminate both the Quadrooter security vulnerability with the minor side effect of ruining your Android phone).
Did I mention that this scenario is as evil as having a smartphone with a major security problem that cannot be fixed? Wait. What? Can’t be fixed? Well, not for the vast majority of Android smartphones that are not easily upgraded. As for those that are upgradable, the security fix exists but it won’t show up until sometime next month.
Fortunately for Android smartphone owners the very laws of physics have come to the rescue. The security flaw is serious, but it’s unlikely that all one-billion phones will be exploited at the same time. It’s the law of big numbers or something, and the reason why everybody in town doesn’t go to the same restaurant at the same time on the same night.
If any of the flaws are successfully exploited, an attacker can gain root access, which gives the attacker full access to an affected Android device, its data, and its hardware — including its camera and microphone.
However, Quadrooter is just one of many vulnerabilities that can lead to an exploit which can cause problems on Android smartphones. If you own an Android device, and you worry about security, well, you’ve been pwned.
Pwn is a leetspeak slang term derived from the verb own, as meaning to appropriate or to conquer to gain ownership. The term implies domination or humiliation of a rival, used primarily in the Internet-based video game culture to taunt an opponent who has just been soundly defeated (e.g., “You just got pwned!“).
In script kiddie jargon, pwn means to compromise or control, specifically another computer (server or PC), web site, gateway device, or application.
Got an Android smartphone? Google owns you. Hackers own you. The cell phone company owns you. The cell phone manufacturer owns you. You’re pwned. Android device owners have to wade through more advertising, often use inferior applications, get tracked more frequently, and their smartphones are worth next to nothing on the used resale market. It’s by design, so how is that not evil?