Security metrics for the Android ecosystem

Thomas, Daniel R. and Beresford, Alastair R. and Rice, Andrew (2015) Security metrics for the Android ecosystem. In: ACM CCS Workshop on Security and Privacy in Smartphones and Mobile Devices (SPSM). Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), pp. 87-98. ISBN 9781450338196

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    Abstract

    The security of Android depends on the timely delivery of updates to fix critical vulnerabilities. In this paper we map the complex network of players in the Android ecosystem who must collaborate to provide updates, and determine that inaction by some manufacturers and network operators means many handsets are vulnerable to critical vulnerabilities. We define the FUM security metric to rank the performance of device manufacturers and network operators, based on their provision of updates and exposure to critical vulnerabilities. Using a corpus of 20400 devices we show that there is significant variability in the timely delivery of security updates across different device manufacturers and network operators. This provides a comparison point for purchasers and regulators to determine which device manufacturers and network operators provide security updates and which do not. We find that on average 87.7% of Android devices are exposed to at least one of 11 known critical vulnerabilities and, across the ecosystem as a whole, assign a FUM security score of 2.87 out of 10. In our data, Nexus devices do considerably better than average with a score of 5.17; and LG is the best manufacturer with a score of 3.97.