On February 22, 2013, the FTC announced a settlement with HTC America over charges that HTC failed to use adequate “security by design” in millions of consumer mobile devices. As a result, the company is required to patch vulnerabilities on the devices which include #Smartphones and #Tablets. The settlement, the first action involving a mobile device manufacturer and the new “Privacy By Design” guidelines, sheds some light on the legal risks for mobile device manufacturers and, to some extent, mobile application developers.
The FTC alleged that HTC failed to take reasonable steps to secure the software it developed for its smartphones and tablet computers, introducing security flaws that placed sensitive information about millions of consumers at risk. The resulting vulnerabilities posed risks to sensitive functionality, including the possibility that malware could send text messages, record audio, and install additional malware onto a consumer’s device.
Here are four key take-aways for mobile device manufacturers and application developers from the FTC’s complaint:
- provide your engineering (programming) staff with security training
- review or test your software on mobile devices for potential security vulnerabilities
- follow well-known and commonly accepted secure coding practices
- establish a process for receiving and addressing vulnerability reports from third parties
Smartphones and tablets are powerful, popular, and continue to find their ways into our personal and business lives. New mobile apps hit the market each day. In this fast-moving era of entrepreneurship and creativity, mobile device and app developers need to keep up with evolving privacy and security. Apps and mobile devices that tap into consumer data — including contact information, photos, and location to name a few — pose a heightened risk to digital snoops, data breaches, and real-world thieves.
Please contact us if you are interested in learning how to evaluate your mobile security and privacy risk or to help develop a “Privacy By Design” approach mobile app security.
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- FTC moves against mobile device makers over security (networkworld.com)
- AT&T to usher in split-personality mobile devices (reviews.cnet.com)