Consumer watchdog Which? has revealed that up to 1 billion Android users around the world are potentially at risk of hacking after research showed their devices are no long being protected by security updates.
The problem is likely to affect older devices which are no longer protected by the same level of security as newer models. The lack of security potentially puts users of phones from 2012 or earlier at risk of malware, data loss and cyber attacks.
Based on data from Google analysed by Which?, two in five android device users around the world are no longer receiving the important updates. Currently those devices are unlikely to have issues, but the lack of security leaves them open to attack.
Google declined to responded to the claims, instead directing Android users to contact their device manufacturer or operator.
Kate Bevan, Which? Computing editor said: “It’s very concerning that expensive Android devices have such a short shelf life before they lose security support – leaving millions of users at risk of serious consequences if they fall victim to hackers.
“Google and phone manufacturers need to be upfront about security updates – with clear information about how long they will last and what customers should do when they run out.”
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The UK Government intends to introduce a new law to strengthen the security of Internet of Things (IoT) devices against cyber attacks at the sale of such devices continues to rise.
Which? Has called for more transparency surrounding the latest updates for IoT devices to allow customers to make informed decisions.
Bevan continues: “The government must also push ahead with planned legislation to ensure manufacturers are far more transparent about security updates for smart devices – and their impact on consumers.”
Which? has made suggestions to Android users on what to consider if their have an older phone that may be at risk:
- Be careful what you download: Be careful downloading apps from outside of the official Google Play store.
- Watch what you click on: Be very wary of clicking on any links that look suspicious, especially if they are being sent from someone you’re not familiar with because of potential phishing threats.
- Back up your data: Make sure all your data is backed up in at least two places, such as a hard drive and a cloud service to ensure you won’t lose access to anything vital.
- Get mobile antivirus: There are a range of apps that protect devices from viruses. Check the Google play store for one that may work on older systems.