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Smartphone maker HTC settles with FTC over security flaws
From: Jeffrey Walton <noloader () gmail com>
Date: Fri, 22 Feb 2013 21:57:23 -0500


The Federal Trade Commission announced Friday that it had settled
charges that HTC America had inadequately secured its smartphones and
tablets, leaving sensitive user information vulnerable to malicious

Regulators said that HTC had modified the operating systems on its
mobile devices, adding features that left customers vulnerable to
applications that can secretly collect information such as call logs
and location data. The case highlights growing concerns that the
fractured nature of popular smartphone platforms, in which
manufacturers customize Google’s and Microsoft’s operating systems,
can leave an opening for hackers.

Many owners of HTC products received patches to plug security holes
after the issues came to light in 2011. The company said in a
statement Friday that it is working to update the rest of the phones.

The FTC declined to comment on whether it is investigating other
handset makers over similar concerns, but said the case is just one
piece of the agency’s look at mobile security and privacy issues.

Last month, the agency released guidelines for mobile app developers
on the best ways to notify users about their data and privacy
policies, and it has advised smartphone makers to think about ways to
test, address and respond to security issues during the development

“It’s important that they think about security by design,” said Nithan
Sannappa, an attorney in the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

As part of the settlement, HTC America must establish a comprehensive
security program. It is also prohibited from making false or
misleading statements about its security.

The settlement is another blow for HTC as it fights to regain lost
smartphone market share.

It was the first to offer an Android phone and once manufactured the
most popular phones for the operating system. But the company’s market
share has fallen steeply in the face of competition from Samsung and

At the end of 2012, HTC had 32 percent of the world’s smartphone
market, down from 46 percent in 2011.
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