Update Your Smartphones

Did you know that over 30 percent of the world’s PCs are infected with malware, worms, and PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs)?

The Android Operating system is used by many phone manufacturers and this leads to more security vulnerabilities than if Google had complete control over all the phones as well as the operating system.

iPhones are not perfect, but at least Apple has complete control over its products and their operating systems.  Its customers get the latest updates on a regular basis.

In either case, you have to say yes to the updates!  In my tutoring work, I see too many phones that have updates waiting to be installed because people are not aware of why it’s important.  Updates contain improvements and important security fixes (“patches”). I know some of the improvements can be confusing, but you really must install the updates! I’m here for you if you need help understanding any changes, and I’ll bet you will really like some of the new features once you learn more about them.

Here is an excellent article on the best phones of 2016.
Best 10 SmartPhones of 2016 So Far

Smartphone market share pie chart from fortune.com

Fortune Magazine reports that Apple is gaining market share overseas and losing a little in the US.

The new Samsung S7 phone has put Android in front.  

“The U.S. market continues to be very competitive as smartphone penetration reached 65% among mobile phone users and 84% of overall mobile phone sales,” she writes. “The pool of available new buyers is shrinking and Android’s wider price range helps them grab late adopters looking for their first smartphone.”

If you have an Android phone or are considering purchasing one, there is some important information you need to know.

To keep it simple for you, here are the highlights from a very informative article by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes on ZDNet about security vulnerabilities in Android Phones.   You can read the complete article here.

Google, in its latest Android Security Report, stated that about 70 percent of “all active Android devices are on a version that we support with patches.”

However the Android ecosystem consists of about 1.4 billion devices, so 30% equals 400 million devices.  The reason for this discrepancy is that Google is not the only manufacturer of Android phones–only the Nexus phones.

Google also reported that ” We have provided these regular updates directly to manufacturers since the release of these versions of Android.”  However, Google doesn’t say anything about the proportion of users that are actually getting the updates.

The infection rate with Potentially Harmful Applications (Malware) averages around 0.5 percent overall, with that figure dropping down to 0.15 percent for devices that only install apps from the Google Play store.  However, even a less-than-1-percent infection rate in more than a billion devices translates into millions of infected devices.

In any case, the report indicates that Google is doing a better job of finding and patching vulnerabilities than ever and that’s good.

How does that infection rate compare with PCs?

According to a PandaLabs report for 2015, over 30 percent of the world’s PCs are infected with malware, worms, and PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs). It’s clear that the PC ecosystem is in more of a mess than Android is.  I found this 30% number to be shocking!  Do you and your friends have virus and malware protection on your PCs?

It’s much harder to draw a comparison between Android and iOS (Apple). While it seems to be much harder to get malware onto iPhones and iPads, it can’t be said that iOS is perfect.

So, what should Android phone users do?  Android Marshmallow OS

For Google Nexus users who install the regular trickle of patches, and who only download apps from the Google Play store, the chances of being exposed are small and, even if you are, there’s a good chance that Google will clean things up pretty quickly.

If you’ve bought a Samsung or BlackBerry product and you only download apps from Google Play and you install updates when they become available, the chances of things going bad are pretty low.

Keeping up with patching Android and keeping the Google Play store free of toxic apps is a tough job, and the author company thinks Google has certainly embraced the challenge. However, he thinks “there’s real work to be done by the third-party Android hardware makers, along with the carriers, to get patches to users in a more timely fashion.

The most serious problem is all the old hardware in use. Devices still running Jelly Bean, Ice Cream Sandwich, and Gingerbread, (Android operating systems are named after sweets and are in alphabetical order like hurricane names) account for about a quarter of all active Android devices today.These devices way beyond ever seeing an update.  (Just like Windows XP)

If you’re an owner of one of these older devices, then you need to give serious consideration to upgrading. This is the real danger zone. While you might be able to dodge a lot of the bullets by being careful and only downloading from Google Play, you’re always going to be at risk from unpatched vulnerabilities such as Heartbleed, Pileup and the like. You’re playing Russian roulette with your data and privacy.

I hope I have been able to simplify this information so it makes sense to you and that you will heed its advice.  If you have any questions, just let me know.



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