When you’re out and about using your smartphone, you don’t tend to think of malware and hacking. This is your phone after all. What could you possibly be doing with a phone that would be insecure, and it’s surely being kept up to date anyway as your laptop is. Well sadly the truth isn’t quite so pleasant as we all do many things on our smartphones, from banking to shopping that need the handset to be properly secure and up to date.
Google supports each version of their Android operating system for four years from the date of its launch, with a new version of Android launching each year. Support from smartphone manufacturers can vary considerably however, with some, such as Apple and Samsung, supporting smartphones with stability and security updates for as much as fourteen years from the first launch of the handset, while others can drop support for new handsets within a year of their launch.
When you are shopping for a new handset you should purchase one that’s part of the Android One programme. Signing up to this programme commits the handset manufacturer to providing at least two years of operating system upgrades, again from the day the handset first launches. This is still not much of a long-term guarantee for you however, so what can you do to determine if your smartphone is still receiving security updates, and is secure to use?
The first thing you can do is to check which version of Android your smartphone is running. In Settings find the About Phone option. This is sometimes within the System settings. Here you will be able to see which version of Android you are using on the smartphone. As in the case of the image below we can see it’s Android 9.
This link will tell you whether your version of Android is still in support. If it’s not then you should definitely look to upgrade your smartphone as it will be lacking essential security patches. The About Phone settings will also tell you the date of the last security patch your smartphone received. In the image above it’s January 2021, which was a considerable time ago. In the image below (which was captured in February 2022) we can see the phone is up to date as the last security patch was just one month prior.
Checking for updates on your phone at this point is essential. If security patches have been released by the handset manufacturer then they will download and install. If there are no updates, and the last time the phone was updated was a year or so ago, then you should definitely consider purchasing a new smartphone as again you will be lacking essential security patches you will need for banking and shopping online.
As I have already mentioned, some companies are much better than others at supporting handsets and you can check the current status of on these links of smartphones from Samsung, which supports handsets for up to fourteen years from launch.
You should always take security very seriously on a smartphone if you use it for any financial purposes. An older phone might be cool or retro to use, but the risks of using an older and unsupported version of Android can cost you dearly.
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