Up to a billion Android devices could be at risk of hacking and exposure to malware according to findings from consumer watchdog Which?
Malware and hacking is a big digital danger for smartphone users as it could lead to identity theft, stolen data and even ransom demands.
Which? has stated that any Android device from 2012 or before and those using Android operating system 6.0 or below could be at risk. And with Google’s own figures estimating that around 42% of global Android users use Android 6.0 or below, a huge number of people could be at risk.
With this information Which? conducted tests on five Android devices - Motorola X, Samsung Galaxy A5, Sony Xperia Z2, LG/Google Nexus 5, Samsung Galaxy S6 - and found it was able to infect each device with multiple malware infections.
Kate Bevan, Which? Computing editor, told the BBC: "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.
"The government 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."
How to keep your Android free from malware
If you’re using an Android device that’s running on Android Nougat 7.0 or earlier, go into your settings and see if you can update the operating system in the ‘Advanced System’ section.
If your Android can’t be updated, then the device may be at risk. It’s important that you don’t download any apps from outside of the Google Play store, and keep an eye out for dodgy text messages from numbers that aren’t in your contacts that ask you to click links.
It’s also a good idea to back up your data to a cloud service or hard drive. Finally, make sure you have a good antivirus app installed to protect your valuable data.