In short: Democratic candidates and staff members involved in the ongoing campaigns for this year’s mid-terms are replacing Android handsets with Apple’s iPhones en masse over hacking fears, DNC Chief Information Security Officer Bob Lord revealed earlier this week. The industry veteran cited the frequency of security patches as one of the main reasons why the largest liberal party in the U.S. is now phasing out Android devices in favor of their iOS-powered rivals. While he acknowledged Google’s own Pixel series is updated on a monthly basis, the same doesn’t hold true for most other manufacturers using the company’s omnipresent operating system, whereas Apple patches iOS regularly and is hence seen by some as a safer bet for anyone handling sensitive information on the go.
Background: The development is a continuation of an effort that officially started earlier this summer with a targeted push against ZTE devices. The Chinese company found itself in the crosshairs of the Democratic party and even some Republican politicians after President Trump intervened to save it from certain bankruptcy caused by crippling sanctions the Commerce Department issued in response to repeated violations of trade embargoes imposed on North Korea and Iran. Many politicians in the U.S. believe ZTE continues to pose a national security threat due to its close ties to Beijing (it’s majority-owned by a state-sponsored company), whereas the fact that many of its Android devices aren’t receiving security patches on a regular basis also doesn’t help its case.
Impact: The DNC’s new move is likely to hit ZTE the hardest given how its low-cost phones are understood to have been a popular option for the party’s staffers in the past. Still, the publicly communicated smartphone strategy change also spells bad publicity for the Android ecosystem as a whole, even though it highlights one of its most prominent issues currently in existence – severe fragmentation that makes long-term software support a costly endeavor for electronics makers. Ultimately, none of this is good news for ZTE that only recently started an in-depth recovery process and is still standing on extremely shaky legs in the U.S.