Tech-Friendly: Google leaves millions of Android users without security updates

Paul Gorski
Paul Gorski

By Paul Gorski

Google will not be offering security updates to millions of Android smartphone users, according to Thomas Fox-Brewster at Forbes.com.

Brewster claims: “Android smartphone owners who aren’t running the latest version of their operating system might get some nasty surprises from malicious hackers in 2015. That’s because one of the core components of their phones won’t be getting any security updates from Google. …”

Read Brewster’s article “Google Under Fire For Quietly Killing Critical Android Security Updates For Nearly One Billion,” at http://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2015/01/12/google-webview-updates-quietly-killed-for-most-androids/?ss=Security.

According to Google’s own user statistics as of Jan. 5, 2015, almost 60 percent of Android users are using an old version of Android, versions that will not receive needed security updates. The Google Android user statistics may be found at: https://developer.android.com/about/dashboards/index.html. These statistics are updated regularly, so the numbers will change over time.

Unfortunately, many Android phones for sale either as new or refurbished are running these older, unsecure versions of Android. This means you can buy a brand-new Android-based smartphone today that cannot receive needed security patches.

Look for Android versions 4.4.4 or 5.0 or greater when buying a new Android-based smartphone. Also, Google and Motorola smartphones usually run “pure” Android and are more likely to receive security and major Android updates before any other models of Android-based smartphones. I am a fan of the Motorola Moto G.

In contrast, most Apple iPhone users adopt the newest version of iOS soon after its release because Apple designs iOS upgrades to work on new and recent iPhones, iPhones which may be two years old. This leads to a much more consistent iOS iPhone user base. That’s not to say the iOS upgrades run flawlessly on older phones or on all older phones; Apple’s recent iOS 8 has had its fair share of bugs. That said, Apple does try not to “obsolete” your 2-year-old phone by issuing unsupported iOS upgrades.

Reminder: when buying an Android-based smartphone, make sure it is running Android version 4.4.4 or 5.0 (or an update to 5.0).

Paul Gorski (www.paulgorski.com) has been a technology manager nearly 20 years, specializing in workflow solutions for printing, publishing and advertising computer users. Originally destined to be a chemist, his interest in computers began in college when he wrote a program to analyze data from lab instruments he hard-wired to the back of an Apple IIe.

Posted Jan. 14, 2015

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