When Is Your Phone Too Old to Be Secure?

Many folks take pride in milking a few extra years out of their phones—but doing so may put them at risk. So how old is too old?

In this case, we’re specifically considering Android phones, but much the same could be said for iPhones. 

A 2020 study found more than a billion Android devices were not getting security updates—and experts note that number has surely increased. The problem is that as the Android operating system evolves, Google phases out security updates for older versions. And at that point, devices running those phased-out versions begin to build up security flaws big and small.

The more time that passes, the greater the risk of show-stopping vulnerabilities.

How old is too old?
Because so many manufacturers build Android-powered devices, it’s impossible to definitively say when your phone will lose support. For Google’s own phones, the answer is straightforward. Google Pixel hardware will “get security updates for at least three years from when the device first became available on the Google Store in the U.S.,” the company says.

But if your phone is a non-Google device running Android, things grow murky.
Android versions are numbered in a straightforward manner, with the current version being 11. Experts say the wise move is to replace your phone if it is three or more versions older than the current one—meaning that even if you’re running Android 8, you’re at risk.

And if you’re running an older version than that, as many millions of consumers are worldwide, your risk is high. Security patches are no longer being offered for your phone. A new phone is expensive, but your personal information is worth far more.

© National Security Institute, Inc. www.nsi.org


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