Android security updates: Everything you need to know

The home screen of the Google Pixel 7
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Security patches are frequent for smartphones, and there are easy ways to keep up to date on your phone in particular. If you're curious about what's changed on Android, you've come to the right place.  

Google has detailed the latest Android Security Bulletin and released the fixes for Pixel devices.

These are exploits and other security concerns that affect Android as a whole. Issues with the operating system, kernel patches, and driver updates may not affect any particular device, but these need to be fixed in the Android base by the folks maintaining the operating system code — you know, Google. The company has detailed the things it's improved for this month.

Updated factory images for Pixel devices that are still supported are available, and over-the-air updates are rolling out to users. If you don't want to wait, you can download and flash the factory image or OTA update file manually. Follow the link to get started.

The company that made your phone uses these patches to send an update out to you.

These changes have been released to the people making the best Android phones for at least 30 days, but Google can't force anyone to deliver them to you. So if you're using a phone from Samsung, Motorola, or anybody else besides Google, you'll need to wait for them to send an update and shouldn't try to flash any of the above files. It might have already happened, as OEMs can send out the patch before the deadline Google must adhere to so that the exploits aren't publicized.

Of course, Google has safety checks in place to prevent any problems on your phone due to security exploits. Verify Apps and SafetyNet are at work anytime you add an app to your phone, and seamless updates to Google Play Services will keep them up to date regardless of any hold-up from a manufacturer or carrier. Details about Android Enterprise Security can be found here

Highlights of the September 2023 security bulletin

  • The September 2023 update addressed vulnerabilities in the Android Framework and system components.
  • The MediaProvider component was updated through Project Mainline in September 2023.
  • Vendor-specific patches from Qualcomm are available for devices using components from those manufacturers.

Devices with Android 10 and later may also receive security updates as Google Play system updates, thanks to Project Mainline.

Pixel-specific updates

Google Pixel 6 Pro getting an Android update

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Every month, Google releases some Pixel-specific patches affecting phones currently being supported.

The September 2023 update for Pixel includes the security fixes from the main Android update and an additional fix from Arm that addresses a vulnerability in the Mali GPU. 

Full details for the September 2023 security bulletin and a listing for all previous patches are available on the Android Security website.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.