Your Phone Is Probably Not Safe To Use Right Now
Buying a new smartphone is usually an exciting experience. When we go to the market, we probably already have a particular brand in mind. However, today’s flagship phones are ridiculously expensive. This prompts a lot of people to pick up refurbished phones which come at a bargain.
Phones released years ago run on outdated Android software. This means that they are vulnerable to lacking critical security updates that keep users safe from hackers. According to UK Consumer Watchdog, Which?, 40% of Android users have been using old versions of the Google-made OS that no longer receive vital updates.
This came as a shock when it was discovered that more than one billion Android phones and tablets are at risk of facing attacks from hackers. The phones that are most at-risk are those running Android 4 or older. Even those using devices running on Android 7.0 that can’t update to a newer version should also be concerned.
What Makes Old Android Phones Unsafe to Use?
Google’s new Android software upgrades provide significant improvements to the behind-the-scenes systems that enable apps to operate on smartphones. Apps on an updated version are able to use less memory, be more power-efficient, and load more quickly than what previous Android versions have allowed. Does your old phone become unsafe to use, and if so, when?
When Updates Stop Rolling
All devices receive software updates from their phone OEMs. Whether it’s Android, iOS, or other popular OS, they continue providing updates to phone firmware for a period of about 3 years, after which, there are no more updates.
At this point, it is wise to stop using the phone because old software is easy to hack. The longer a software has been in the market, the more time hackers have had to figure it out.
When You Notice Hardware Issues like Overheating
Older phones not only suffer from lack of constant updates, but they also get wear and tear where they cannot be noticed. Batteries tend to suffer a lot when they are subjected to frequent cycles of charging and discharging. If you think about replacing batteries, also consider replacing the motherboard as it tends to wear and tear after a while. Replacing both components can be expensive and inefficient in the long-run.
When Hardware Components Start Failing
Even the most careful phone users can’t protect the phone from aging. Dust particles, for example, will always get into the small cracks of a phone. After a long time, it becomes hard to press the physical buttons. Other areas that get affected by persistent use make it simple that there is no easy way to make replacements. For productivity and to avoid constant repairs, always consider doing away with the phone.
What Is a Security Patch for a Phone’s OS?
When hackers discover a new loophole in a phone’s software, phone makers deploy new walls and build better security. To ensure that users are not affected, they send the security patches so that no one can infiltrate your privacy.
Cybercriminals are always looking for new ways to bypass the security on your phone. It is an unending cycle of identifying threats, solving them, and finding the next one.
Why Phone Manufacturers Stop Sending Out Security Patches
Phone manufacturers provide support to phones for so long. Every new Android handset has a new version that requires a new threat assessment and patching. To provide support for all those devices can be quite straining on resources. As a result, the activity becomes feasible. Eventually, Google and phone OEMs have to cut off support for older handsets, once the device gets to be two to three years old. Those devices will no longer receive security updates and if they ever face security threats, nothing much can be fixed.
Are Out-of-Date Phones Safe?
The director of security intelligence company, Lookout, Christoph Hebeisen, stated, “We do not consider it safe to run a device that does not receive security patches. Critical security vulnerabilities become public knowledge every few weeks or months, and once a system is out of support, then users who continue to run it becomes susceptible to the exploitation of known vulnerabilities.”
Hebeisen also claimed that a vulnerable phone would give full access to everything that’s on one’s phone, including their personal and company emails, contact information, banking details, or recorded audio of your phone calls. A hacker could easily access all these critical data whenever they want and for as long as one continues to use the compromised handset.
How to Tell If Your Phone Has Been Hacked
Cybercriminals are always sleek and it can be difficult to automatically tell that you have just been hacked. You have to look for signs such as popups that might appear on the phone or you notice an app that you didn’t download.
Also be aware of unexplained high data usage as malicious apps could be using a lot of data in the background. Other indicators such as unusual high battery usage and sluggish performance can also be attributed to older hardware that downgrades over time.
How To Keep Yourself Safe If You Have an Old Phone
The best way to keep yourself safe from an old phone is to simply upgrade from it. If getting a new phone is not within your budget at the moment, you can ensure your phone has the latest software installed. Ensure that you only download apps from the Google Play Store and not from third-party or unofficial app stores. Also, avoid downloading apps that demand an APK file from a website.