When something inevitably goes wrong with a mobile device, hardly anyone ever thinks of blaming the manufacturer for it. The phone was safe for as long as it had been; surely it was not the fault of the company which made it?
Unfortunately, this is the case, more often than not. And the details of such perfidy are not what you’d expect. Here’s how Android manufacturers are letting you down.
What is an Android security patch?
Indeed, nothing is perfect. Even well-tested and reliable software could stand to use a few updates and reinforcements now and then.
Patches are snippets of code that aims to close the holes in security, no matter how small. Issues with the OS or driver updates may not affect individual systems but need to be fixed by those who maintain the database, that is, Google.
These patches secure the device from online threats like hacking, malware, and viruses. They also help fix system bugs in a timely and convenient manner.
Why are patches important?
Exploits are codes that are explicitly designed to target vulnerabilities in the system. These are usually coded into malware that is dropped on unprotected devices.
Zero-day exploits are those who target unpatched software vulnerability on the same day that the vulnerability is detected.
Patches need to fix all the flaws noted in a system since the last patch. Moreover, each patch level cannot be more than 90 days in the past.
By not regularly patching your software, you put not only yourself at risk, but also your associates. In fact, according to Homeland Security, 85% of all targeted attacks can be prevented by applying a security patch.
Considering the speed and range of attacks, it is vital that you update your software and install patches as soon as they are released. However, if you are left vulnerable, the manufacturer might be more deserving of the blame than you.
Is Android Secure?
Yes, it can be if it were not for several Android brands that are threatening your device’s security.
How are Android manufacturers endangering your security?
Once a month, Google updates the Android Security Bulletin and releases a new patch. Pixel and Nexus phones receive it first, and every other Android phone is expected to receive it immediately after. This is where most manufacturers fall behind.
According to a report from Security Research Lab, manufacturers have been lying about staying up to date with the patches. Devices were shown to have been updated on a specific date but were missing as many as a dozen patches from that update.
Though Google’s own Pixel devices stayed safe, industry giants like Samsung, Motorola, and HTC were found to have been guilty of this.
Essential and Nokia are two Android manufacturers, other than Google, who have been consistent with Android security patches. Nokia 2.1 — the company’s entry-level Android Go device — gets an updated security patch every month.
Google has made every effort to make Android safe and secure, but due to the collective apathy of other manufacturers, Android continues to get a bad rep.
In October 2018, Google made it compulsory for device makers to regularly install updates for at least two years. Google has an agreement to roll out regular security updates and Android partners must provide at least four of these to the customers per year.
Here’s hoping that we’re on the path towards more stable and secure Android systems.
Akshaya is an aspiring cardiac surgeon who writes both content and creative pieces at any given juncture. As a powerful orator, a voracious reader, and a bit of a know-it-all, she is usually found with a book in hand. A self-labeled fangirl, Akshaya considers herself a connoisseur of all things nerdy.
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