Over one billion devices running old yet popular versions of Android are left aloof and potentially exposed to cyberattacks as Google is no longer supporting those iterations.
Consumer watchdog Which? in a report said that about 40% of Android devices are running on old versions of Android for which Google has long stopped rolling out updates. The most vulnerable iterations are Android KitKat and older. While Android 10 is the most recent software, Android 9 and Android 8 versions are still receiving updates.
This, however, means users with devices running Android 7 and older are at risk.
Which? citing Google’s Android distribution data (as of May 2019) points out that 42% of Android users are still running on Android 6.0 and older versions. This consists of Marshmallow, Lollipop, KitKat, Ice Cream Sandwich, and Gingerbread.
The watchdog notes that the data shows about one billion devices including phones and tablets are still active but not receiving any security updates. Google has also stopped releasing security updates for Android versions below 7.0, popularly known as Nougat.
It’s worth noting that Kitkat, Lollipop, and Marshmallow are fairly old operating system versions. Google each year rolls out a new iteration of its Android. This year, it will release Android 11.
Google’s Android distribution, however, is quite different from Apple’s for iOS. Google’s software is used by OEMs around the world for phones at different price points and specifications. The fragmentation and lack of support for updates from OEMs are most likely the reason why there are so many old and unsupported Android versions active.
‘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,’ wrote Which? editor Kate Bevan.
A separate report by TheBestVPN reveals that Android had the highest number of vulnerabilities in 2019 compared to other operating systems. Android suffered 414 disclosed vulnerabilities in 2019 followed by Debian Linux which had 360 vulnerabilities.
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