Apple, Microsoft, Google and BlackBerry are among companies being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over whether they apply security updates to their phones and software too slowly.
The regulators sent letters to Apple, BlackBerry, Google, HTC America, LG Electronics USA, Microsoft, Motorola Mobility and Samsung Electronics America to explain their investigation and ask for help from the firms involved.
The FCC explained that the investigation is designed to better understand, and ultimately to improve, the security of mobile devices. The letter asks a number of questions of the firms about their security provisions, when and why patches are released and what, if anything, causes delays to those patches.
The FTC said that these are separate investigations seeking information about how security threats, such as Android menace Stagefright, come to be a problem, and whether older hardware and software get the same attention as newer versions.
"As consumers and businesses turn to mobile broadband to conduct ever more of their daily activities, the safety of their communications and other personal information is directly related to the security of the devices they use," said the FCC in a statement about the investigation.
"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, including ‘Stagefright' in the Android operating system, which may affect almost one billion Android devices globally.
"Consumers may be left unprotected, for long periods of time or even indefinitely, by any delays in patching vulnerabilities once they are discovered. To date, operating system providers, original equipment manufacturers, and mobile service providers have responded to address vulnerabilities as they arise.
"There are, however, significant delays in delivering patches to actual devices, and older devices may never be patched."
The regulators may have a point and have promised to share their findings in due course.
To hear more about security challenges, the threats they pose and how to combat them, sign up for V3 sister site Computing's Enterprise Security and Risk Management conference, taking place on 24 November.
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