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One billion Android smartphones racking up security flaws – Naked Security


How long do Android smartphones and tablets continue to receive security updates after they’re purchased?

The slightly shocking answer is barely two years, and that’s assuming you bought the handset when it was first released. Even Google’s own Pixel devices max out at three years.

Many millions of users hang on to their Android devices for much longer, which raises questions about their ongoing security as the number of serious vulnerabilities continues to grow.

Add up all the Android handsets no longer being updated and you get big numbers – according to Google’s developer dashboard last May, almost 40% of Android users still use handsets running versions 5.0 to version 7.0, which haven’t been updated for between one and four years. One in ten run something even older than that, equivalent to one billion devices.

The point is brought home by new testing from consumer group Which?, discovering that it was possible to infect popular older handsets mainly running Android 7.0 – the Motorola X, Samsung Galaxy A5, Sony Xperia Z2, Google Nexus 5 (LG), and the Samsung Galaxy S6 – with mobile malware.

All of the above were vulnerable to a recently discovered Bluetooth flaw known as BlueFrag, and to the Joker strain of malware from 2017. The older the device, the more easily it could be infected – Sony’s Xperia Z2, running Android 4.4.2, was vulnerable to the StageFright flaw from 2015.

Google recently had to remove 1,700 apps containing Joker (aka Bread) from its Play Store, only the latest in an increasingly desperate rearguard action against malware being hosted under its nose.

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