Apple, Google, And The CIA

Apple and Google have issued statements to the media regarding WikiLeaks’ March 7th publication of CIA documents.

Here’s Apple’s statement via BuzzFeed News.

Apple is deeply committed to safeguarding our customers' privacy and security.

“Apple is deeply committed to safeguarding our customers’ privacy and security.”

According to Apple, its “products and software are designed to quickly get security updates” to its customers. So, just how well does that statement hold up to what we see in-the-wild? Well, indeed, iOS users update fast.

Based on “first launch” telemetry from our Freedome VPN, we consistently observe rapid adoption of the latest version of iOS. In short order, the latest version is the majority of what we see from first-time users.

Mobile OS take up rate - iOS

And then… there’s Google’s statement, again, via BuzzFeed News.

The CIA can also compromise smartphones that run Google's Android OS…

“The CIA can also compromise smartphones that run Google’s Android…”

Google is “confident that security updates and protections in […] Android already shield users from many of these alleged vulnerabilities.” But here’s the big problem – while the latest version of Android OS might be secure – the version of Android actually installed on the vast majority of phones is not. Not by a long shot.

Based on our Freedome VPN telemetry, we can say that it takes a significant amount of time for Android updates to arrive on customers’ devices.

Mobile OS take up rate - Android

Here’s a breakdown by a selected set of countries.

Mobile OS take up rate - Freedome on Android

The Nordics have a relatively high percentage of Android versions 6 and 7. But the majority of the world? Versions 4 and 5 still dominate.

Bottom line: if you run Android and care at all about your device’s security… choose your hardware with care. Only a few select vendors are currently focused on providing Google’s monthly security updates to end users.


The graphs in this post were originally published in our State of Cyber Security 2017 report.

A stand-alone version is also available: Mobile OS Take Up Rate.



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