The Consumer Center NRW has filed a complaint against a Media Markt branch in Cologne. The electronics retailer’s branch had offered a Mobistel Cynus T6 smartphone for 99 euros, with the installed KitKat Android operating system, fifteen unsettled security gaps. The consumer protectionists want to achieve with the procedure that traders their customers in the future to draw attention to such deficiencies.
Manufacturers and dealers in Germany are usually bound to fairly strict rules when they offer a product. There are different information requirements, with which a provider must make the most diverse information about a product. In electronics markets, this includes, among other things, an indication of the energy efficiency class of various large-scale devices, which the customer should be able to clearly read and compare.
With software, there are hardly any such regulations, which should change at least as far as possible by the consumer protectionists. As the responsible employee Christine Steffen told sueddeutsche.de, the providers are also compulsory here:
“It can not be that I buy a new piece of equipment in a market that is fraught with security gaps, which will not be closed even after I have it put into operation, and I do not know that.” Christine Steffen, Consumer Center NRW
The smartphone with Android KitKat, tested by the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), is one of the many smartphones that suffer from a typical Android problem. The operating system, which was released in 2013, will be updated more or less regularly by Google, but few manufacturers will implement these changes for their devices. Accordingly, the available updates never end up on the smartphones of the customers, which makes them ticking time bombs.
On the one hand, smartphones with such obsolete software are a security risk for the actual owner. Again and again cases are known in which hackers exploit the well-known security gaps and create manipulated apps several million smartphones. Mostly, the attackers have to passwords or similar. Apart, in other cases, the smartphones become participants in a botnet.
Google wants to improve the update procedure with upcoming Android versions, retroactive for older variants of the operating system but it does not change anything. For the owners of older smartphones, therefore, it is still true that they should still consider some devices to be considered a new acquisition and in the meantime be particularly careful. The installation of apps from unsafe sources is just as taboo as Onlinebanking & Co. – the devices are actually no longer on the net.
The action against the Media Markt branch in Cologne is intended to have a signal effect; in addition to the individual case, it has no legal significance either for manufacturers or for other other dealers.