U.S. Congressman Urges Congress, White House to Address Mobile Security Issues

By George Bao   Aug. 25, 2016

LOS ANGELES — U.S. Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D | Los Angeles County) Thursday urged the U.S. Congress and the White House to address the concerns on smartphone security.

Lieu released a statement in response to reports about serious security vulnerabilities. So-called ‘digital arms dealers’ have developed software that can expose a phone user’s location, passwords, text messages, emails, calls and contact lists.

“As a computer science major, I am incredibly alarmed, but unfortunately not surprised, by the discovery of significant security vulnerabilities in one of our country’s most prolific smartphone operating systems,” Lieu said in the statement.

“The fact that over two thirds of adults in the United States own a smartphone makes the device a natural target for bad actors, and we as a nation have thus far failed to take the threat seriously,” said Lieu.

“From the SS7 network to iOS, vulnerabilities in our communications systems have made it possible for foreign governments, criminal syndicates and hackers to target individuals and have near-full access to everything we say or do on our smartphone,” Lieu continued.

“Today’s announcement follows news last week that an anonymous group had stolen a jackpot of hacking tools to exploit ‘zero-day’ vulnerabilities from the National Security Agency and published them for all the world to use.”

“I am pleased that Apple was able to quickly address this security breach, but it is clear that Congress must do more to address the issues of mobile security,” said Lieu.

“I believe a congressional hearing is in order and plan to work with my colleagues to examine these critical security concerns. I also again urge the Administration to disclose the criteria used in determining whether to notify cyber vulnerabilities to private sector companies rather than hoard and conceal the vulnerabilities,” Lieu said.

“Whatever our government may do in terms of using cyber malware, others will do to American citizens. The best protection for the United States and our people is to have secure systems,” Lieu concluded.

Congressman Lieu has been a leading congressional advocate for stronger cyber security and privacy measures to protect consumers, especially when it comes to mobile devices.

The Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission have asked mobile phone carriers and manufacturers to explain how they release security updates.

The agencies have written to Apple, AT&T and Alphabet, among others, in order “to better understand, and ultimately to improve, the security of mobile devices,” according to FCC.

The FCC has sent letters to six mobile phone carriers on security issues, while the FTC ordered eight mobile device manufacturers including BlackBerry, Microsoft, LG Electronics USA and Samsung Electronics America to disclose “the factors that they consider in deciding whether to patch a vulnerability on a particular mobile device.”

 

 

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