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Android OS Security: The Problems and How to Tackle Them

With every passing year, Google releases a new version of its Android software.

In this version, there is a promise of improvement in the way of interactions, aesthetics, and more. What they might not mention the most – or the market might not care about – is the security aspect of the operating system.

But that does not mean that it is never there.

However, the improvement in Android OS security doesn’t mean that it is as safe as it can be.

That is why Android users need to be on the alert too lest they fall into the pool of Android hacks happening almost every time.

The Problems to Look Out For

Every operating system has its security flaws and issues. When it comes to the Android platform, though, here are some of the most serious ones to look out for:

 Mobile Remote Access Hacks

As the name implies, these hacks are perpetrated by controlling your Android device from a remote location.

The most common way that this happens is in the installation of applications. These applications can then carry malware onto the units, granting such a hacker unique access to the said smartphone.

This might not be a severe issue for the average user. If the hacker should get into the phone of a top business executive this way, though, it could lead to the loss of sensitive information and records that should not have been made public.

This is why Google prevents the installation of apps from sources outside the Play Store – unless you have overridden such permissions, though. However, it is also unfortunate that most apps on the regulated Google Play Store can also carry malicious codes for this kind of attack to happen.

Out of Date Software

The earliest versions of the Android software did not have any unique app permission controls. Thus, the devices had to accept all the permission that comes with the apps they are downloading.

From the Android 6 Marshmallow, though, Google perfected the plan to give users more control over what permissions each application should have.

If that is good news for the Android 6, note that it was around Android 7/ Android 8 when Google started the monthly security updates program.

What we are trying to explain here, in simple terms, is that the older software is not as secure as the new one. Thus, out-of-date devices are at risk of being exploited with known vulnerabilities that have since been fixed on later software releases.

Unfortunately, many Android devices are still running old software on them.

As of the time of this writing, you will be surprised to note that almost 15% of Android devices are still running Android 5 Lollipop. The numbers are higher at 16.9% for those still on Android 6, while the figures for Nougat are just shy of 20%.

This confirms why it is estimated that about one billion Android devices are having security issues waiting to happen.

 Man-in-the-Middle Attacks

One of the poor habits that have almost become the norm today is the use of public Wi-Fi networks.

Walk into any business environment, coffee shop, eatery, hotel, or establishment, and you will have a free Wi-Fi network waiting for you. Such availability – as well as the lack of costs that comes with them – makes it easy for many people to look to these networks as the next best thing to happen.

For that freebie, though, you might be paying with your sensitive data and information.

The risks are heightened when you connect to a rogue public Wi-Fi network. This will allow a hacker access to your device so much that they can infect it with malware. The said malware could then be used to access your unit remotely, collect data over the internet, and more.

An advanced form of Wi-Fi-related attacks is the man-in-the-middle attack. With that, it becomes possible for the hacker to hijack your device, impersonate you in communications, etc.

Related content: 7 Best Antivirus for Android

Taking the Precautions

There are more Android-related hacks than we have mentioned here, but you get the drift already. If you have thought that your phone is as safe and secure as can be, now might be the time to think again.

Fortunately, you don’t have to request a custom-made mobile Fort Knox from Google to ensure your safety and security on your Android device. Some of the most recommended tips to keep yourself safe are:

  • Downloading a VPN: downloading a VPN on your device will help protect you against man in the middle attacks, and any other Wi-Fi-related attempts. Even on a personal internet connection, a VPN will encrypt your traffic to make it impossible for hackers/ even your ISP to see what you are doing online.
  • Never sideload apps: although there are some unsafe apps on the Google Play Store too, the percentage is low. By comparison, any app that you install from external sources could have been bundled with severe malware that will breach your data, privacy, and security models.
  • Upgrade your firmware: whenever you get the notification to upgrade your device firmware, do so as fast as you can. Install monthly; security updates as soon as they come too so that you can be on the safer side
  • Change your devices: Android devices have an upgrade timeline of about 2-4 years, depending on your OEM, device grade (midrange or flagship), and more. When your device reaches the end of its software update cycle, that is a great time to change it for a more recent unit.

Update your apps: some apps have vulnerabilities and exploits that can be exploited in them. When the developer finds out, they will send an update to fix these issues. That is why you should always download those updates as fast as they come so that you don’t fall victim to the exploits.

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