Staggering number of Android devices vulnerable to hacks — how to tell if you're at risk

Phones (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • British Consumer watchdog Which? Has suggested that nearly a billion Android devices are at risk of hacking attacks, as they are no longer supported by security updates.
  • It says users with phones released around 2012 or earlier should be especially concerned.
  • The watchdog has shared its findings with Google and called for greater transparency around how long phones will be supported by manufacturers.

New research from British consumer watchdog Which? claims nearly a billion Android devices are vulnerable to hacking attacks, since they no longer receive critical security updates from Google.

These findings are certainly not a revelation, since most consumers are already aware of the fact that Android devices are only supported by manufacturers for two or three years. The latest security updates from Google are also meant only for devices running the three latest versions of Android. This means if you have a smartphone that is running Android Nougat, your device isn't protected against new vulnerabilities and is at risk of data theft as well as malware attacks.

Google's Pixel and Android One phones receive security updates for up to three years. Most other Android phones, however, usually receive regular security updates only for around two years or less. So if you plan on keeping your next phone for a long time, you should consider buying a phone that is guaranteed to receive regular software updates for three years.

Android devices that were released in 2012 or earlier are the most vulnerable to hacking attacks. If you happen to own a device that runs Android 4 or earlier, you should make sure you do not download anything from outside the Play Store, back up your data, get an effective Android antivirus app, and avoid clicking on any suspicious links.

Which? says it shared its findings with Google, but the response that it received from the search giant wasn't reassuring. The consumer watchdog has called for Android OEMs to be more transparent about how long they plan to provide updates to their devices to help consumers make informed buying decisions.

Babu Mohan
News Writer