Verizon Galaxy S7 update adds DT Ignite bloatware platform

There are two banes to a smartphone user's existence these days, and both of them start with the letter "B": Batteries and Bloatware. Both can be temporarily remedied by band-aid solutions but still aren't the ideal first experience. While batteries fall on the shoulders of OEMs, bloatware is mainly a responsibility of carriers. One major US carrier is taking advantage of that position. Verizon has just rolled out an update to the Samsung Galaxy S7 that could pretty much be considered a trojan horse (the figurative sense, not the malware) since, along with probable bug and security fixes, it also installs Digital Turbine's Ignite software on the device.

Digital Turbine's Ignite platform, or DT Ignite for short, isn't new to our ears. Nearly two years ago, the company proudly announced the software that it is selling to carriers and OEMs. We'll mince no words to describe it. DT Ignite is a software that bypasses established security features and practices in order to install other software without the knowledge or consent of the user on behalf of some other party. If that sounds a lot like malware, you're not far from the truth. Except DT Ignite is practically blessed by the carrier that uses it.

DT Ignite's goal is to allow partners, like carriers, to deliver customized apps and services for the benefit of the user. Practically the same excuse for every single piece of bloatware in existence. It also provides carriers with metrics to find out whether those campaigns actually work or not. While we cannot fully fault the likes of Verizon for resorting to such things, the methods used are worrying in the long run.

Platforms like Android and iOS more or less have the user's welfare in mind. They have established rules and mechanisms that prevent third party installation of apps with the user's consent or knowledge, for obvious reasons. Tools like DT Ignite go around those, whether through exploits or brute force, to install apps at a partner's behest. Ignite kicks in at first boot or activation but can technically work any time. And like an open backdoor, Ignite's presence is pretty much an open invitation to hackers as well.

Ignite's business could also be seen as unfair for some. Apps that partner with Ignite won't have their data count against Verizon's caps, which gives then unfair advantage over normal apps. It isn't clear if that actually goes against some law or regulation, but, at the very least, DT Ignite's implementation is enough cause for worry.

VIA: Extreme Tech