The US Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission have launched an investigation into mobile security. The organizations have requested the help of major smartphone makers and MNOs to better understand the organizations’ approaches to security updates, particularly with respect to fighting hack attacks and malware.
The FCC has contacted AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, US Cellular, and TracFone Wireless; meanwhile, the FTC has asked for information from Apple, Google, BlackBerry, HTC, LG, Microsoft, Motorola, and Samsung. Explaining the inquiry in a statement, the FCC asserted that there “have recently been a growing number of vulnerabilities associated with mobile operating systems that threaten the security and integrity of a user’s device.” The FTC has asked the contacted mobile device makers to offer details about security flaws and fixes for devices they have launched since August of 2013.
The inquiry comes at a time when mobile security is increasingly topical, with a recent, high-profile tussle between the FBI and Apple over mobile data security, and last year’s major hack attack against the government’s Office of Personnel Management having raised concern about digital security more broadly. It also arrives as the Internet of Things continues to expand, with mobile devices playing an increasingly important role in the connected devices ecosystem; and while the FTC has previously struggled to establish regulations for the IoT, government officials are proving increasingly intent on getting ahead of the issue.
Meanwhile, more sophisticated mobile security technologies have begun to emerge, with companies like Apple helping to pioneer the mass adoption of mobile fingerprint scanning systems. And with other cross-industry bodies like the FIDO Alliance becoming increasingly important in establishing security standards for the mobile industry and beyond, it’s a heady time for US regulators to try to come to grips with these issues themselves.