If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, you’ve heard about the pervasive internet security issue called “Heartbleed.” You might not realize that this vulnerability also likely affects your mobile devices.
I am not very good at understanding these issues, but this is a big deal. If you haven’t yet taken the time to understand the situation, here’s some quick background info:
Heartbleed Bug: Should You Panic?
Android 4.1.1 Still Vulnerable to Heartbleed
As far as how Heartbleed affects smart phones, it seems the responsibility for patching this leak falls on each device manufacturer. It sounds like the ZTE Valet on TracFone is one of those that is most likely still vulnerable, but all mobile phone users should be aware of the issue. Here’s some discussion of it at HowardForums.
Especially if you run Android 4.1.1, you’ll likely want to assess your device’s vulnerability. A search in the Google play store will turn up a number of highly-rated apps to assist with this.
I want to be clear that I do not at all claim to have any special understanding of this issue, but I wanted to spread the word. If I have made mistakes in this post, or if you have something to add, by all means, please add your thoughts to the comment section. I’ll do my best to update the post with relevant additions from those who may understand it better than I do.
Finally, if I may offer a bit of commentary, I think there is a long-term takeaway here. Different mobile phone makers have responded with varying degrees of swiftness to this concern. It seems that Apple devices have always employed code that eliminates this vulnerability, while certain Android manufacturers still haven’t addressed the issue at all. One reason for this, as I understand it, is that Google leaves the Android fixes to the manufacturers.
On the other hand, Apple produces their own devices, and hence doesn’t need to coordinate info among multiple companies. This is an over-arching difference in the two platforms; not something specific to the Heartbleed issue. This is perhaps something else to consider in the ongoing debate of Android vs. iOS (vs. Microsoft, Nokia, et al). It seems like just when I was beginning to happily embrace the freedom and flexibility of Android, Apple might have a good reason to pull me back.