How to Update Your Super-Old Android So It Doesn't Get HackedByDavid Murphy3/09/20 9:00AMComments (31)Photo: Shutterstock
If you have an ancient device that isnt receiving any more updates, then the odds are good that someone, somewhere, is going to find and exploit a vulnerability in it that nobody is interested or able to fix anymore. This is why we preach that you should always keep your wifi router updated with the latest firmware, and the same goes for your old-school Android phoneespecially with the news that more than 1 billion older Android devices arent receiving security updates anymore.Recent Video
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The report from Which? claims that two out of every five Android users worldwide no longer receive security updates for their older Android devices. And while this might sound like something you can just brush off, since who cares about old devices anyway, its apparently not that difficult to take advantage of these gaping security holes. As Which? describes:
Which? experts took a selection of affected phones and tablets into its labs, including handsets still available to buy from online marketplaces such as Amazon, and found they could easily be hit by a range of malware and other threats.
Researchers tested a range of phones including models from Motorola, Samsung, Sony and LG/Google and found vulnerability to hacks including enabling personal information to be stolen, a hacker to take complete control over the phone or large bills for services that the phone owner hasnt used themselves.
Recently out-of-support devices wont immediately have problems, but without security updates, the risk to the user of being hacked goes up exponentially. Generally speaking, the older the phone, the greater the risk.G/O Media may get a commission
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In other words, if youre using a version of Android earlier than Android 8, you arent getting regular security updates anymore. And even if youre staying as up to date as possible on an older version of the Android OS, theres still a chance that there wont be enough security protections in place to protect you from more sophisticated malware.
Update your device (as much as you can)
What can you do? First off, make sure youve updated your device to as current of an operating system as it can handle. If youre not sure how to, then visiting your devices Settings app, then tapping on System > Advanced > System Update is a good start. (The specific route you take might vary based on your device.)
Get antivirus protection
If youve updated as much as you can, and you want to stick with your device, installa solid third-party antivirus/antimalware application. It feels like overkill for most people, I know, but youre going to want as much protection as you can get if your operating system isnt receiving many (or any) frequent updates. (And even if it is, again, your older OS still might have unpatched vulnerabilities.) Downloading a solid ad blocker that can protect against scammy domains wouldnt hurt, too.
I generally think that most people dont need an Android antivirus app, especially if you arent downloading sketchy-sounding apps or, worse, sideloading apps onto your device. Still, if youre stuck on an older version of Android, every little bit helps. And please stick to Google Play Store apps that dont have weird-sounding names, reviews, or made-up descriptions.
Switch to a third-party OS
Beyond that, you might want to consider abandoning stock Android entirely and switching to a third-party OS, like LineageOS. I cant promise that youll never face another security issue or vulnerability, but at least youll receive regular security updates that should hopefully give you a bit more protection than youd otherwise have on your aging, not-updated operating system.
Or just get a new phone
Finally, consider abandoning your old device. You can get a decent, budget Android phone (running Android 10) for around $200. Bumping up to a more modern phone or tablet thats at least somewhat more protected from issueseven though Motorola, in this example, is notoriously slow for launching major Android updateswouldnt kill you, nor your bank account. Id rather have the extra speed, newer features, and stronger security.
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