More than a billion Android smartphones, tablets and other devices could be exploited by hackers because Google no longer offers their users security updates.
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Data from Google shows 42% of Android devices are no longer protected by security updates.
Users are vulnerable to software intrusions like data theft, ransoms, malware and other hacker attacks that could cost hundreds of pounds.
The warning comes from UK consumer champion Which? The watchdog sifted through data provided by Google and realised the huge gap in security.
Most of the threatened devices run older versions of the Android operating system that is no longer supported by Google, but some more modern gadgets are still on sale as new online.
Which devices are at risk?
The problem for users is their old devices can no longer accept security and other software updates, so the only way to become fully protected is discarding the gadget and buying a newer one.
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 hasn’t used themselves, says Which?
The watchdog explained that devices dating from 2012 or earlier are most at risk, including the bests-selling Samsung Galaxy S3 and Sony Xperia 5, which are based on old technology that Google no longer updates.
Google has declined to comment on the report.
iPhones have same security issues
Kate Bevan, Which? Computing editor, said: “It’s very concerning that expensive Android devices have such a short shelf life before they lose security support – leaving millions of users at risk of serious consequences if they fall victim to hackers.
“Google and phone manufacturers need to be upfront about security updates – with clear information about how long they will last and what customers should do when they run out.
“Governments must also push ahead with planned legislation to ensure manufacturers are far more transparent about security updates for smart devices – and their impact on consumers.”
Apple operates a similar rolling support policy as Google and does not offer software or security updates to iPhones earlier than the iPhone SE model
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