The potential outcomes of the vulnerabilities range in severity, from being able to lock someone out of their device to gaining surreptitious access to its microphone and other functions. They all share one common trait, though: They didn’t have to be there.
“The problem is not going to go away, because a lot of the people in the supply chain want to be able to add their own applications, customize, add their own code. That increases the attack surface, and increases the probability of software error,” Stavrou says. “They’re exposing the end user to exploits that the end user is not able to respond to.”
“One thing that is clear is that there is nobody defending the consumer,” Stavrou says. “It’s so deep in the system that the consumer might not be able to tell that it’s there. Or even if they did, they have no recourse other than waiting for the manufacturer, or the carrier, or whoever is updating the firmware to do so.”