Google’s Android OS is running on 1.4 billion mobile devices and the app store is accessed by 60,000 distinct models. 70 percent of all Android devices are running KitKat, which still receives regular security updates, while Marshmallow is installed on 4.6 percent of the total number of Android devices, but this is the only version that offers granular permissions and full-disk encryption. But, are Android users protected or they should worry that the system has vulnerabilities?
According to Craig Young, a researcher with the cybersecurity firm Tripwire Inc., even if Google is upgrading as many devices as possible to the latest versions of Android, “You can’t lump all these devices together and say they’re secure just because Google has come up with monthly patches.” He also added that “There’s a gray area of devices running 4.4 KitKat that haven’t gotten security updates because Google’s own updates have to go through hardware makers and carriers. Android is getting safer, but not every 4.4 KitKat device is equal.”
Samsung and LG, one of Google’s OEMs, have issued monthly patches on their newer devices, but they’re only hundreds or phone and tablet models, so the rest of devices manufactured by other companies remain unprotected and vulnerable to attacks. Google has a built-in malware scanner that scans hundred of millions of devices in order to make sure that no harmful applications are getting inside the OS and doing damage. There are many devices that are scanned weekly, but when users want to install a malicious application without knowing that, Google reacts quickly and prevents that application from being installed on the device.
The Google Play app store is now safer than before, because according to stats, this year, spyware is now down by 60 percent, unauthorized data collection has dropped by 40 percent and other hostile takeovers have been reduced by 50 percent. Google said that only 0.15 percent of users who downloaded software from Google Play store have installed “potentially harmful apps”.
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