Earlier this year, the website Which? released a report showing that 40% of Android users are at an increased risk of security breaches, data leaks, and vice versa. The reason? Their devices are not receiving vital security updates anymore.
“Device retirement” is a common way for phone manufacturers to retire older devices to make room for newer devices. After all, there’s not as much demand to update a Samsung Galaxy 5 than there is to update a Samsung S20.
But as we’ve already discussed, retirement puts many of our older devices at risk; many security updates will not make their way to our older devices, meaning hacking them is much easier than a newer device.
So, what risks are older devices susceptible to? Better question, how can you keep them secure?
Risk #1: Data Theft
The number one risk—the risk you might’ve thought of when I mentioned security risks—is data theft. Without vital security updates, no improvements can be made to the security infrastructure of older devices. And since different hacks are created every single day, this means that the risk of your data being stolen through hacks or other cybercriminal attacks is at an all-time high.
Solution #1: Practice Proper Cybersecurity Etiquette
Defending yourself against data theft can prove a bit tricky, but don’t worry—there’s always a way around this. The best way to defend yourself against data theft is to practice good cybersecurity etiquette. You know, things like avoiding the use of short passwords, downloads of sketchy apps—those kinds of things.
Risk #2: Malware
Every day, someone creates a new piece of malware. Scratch that. Every day, hundreds of people create new pieces of malware. You know what? It’s probably higher than that.
Adware, ransomware, worms, viruses, trojan horses: all of these have the potential to cause massive damage to your Android device. Android isn’t like iOS; Android is not invulnerable to malware, because Android is open-source. Malware that affects standard computer systems can affect Android as well.
Removing malware can prove difficult, too. Really, if your device becomes infected with malware, you’ll have a headache for days on end.
Solution #2: Use Anti-Virus/Anti-Malware Software
Samsung, OnePlus, and other Android manufacturers may not want to update older devices, but that doesn’t mean other companies don’t have your back. Anti-virus/anti-malware software is constantly updated despite the device you’re running it on, meaning you always have a line of defense on your device.
Of course, only use software created and maintained by reputable companies; don’t just download the newest anti-virus software created by a random guy with no reviews on the Play Store.
Risk #3: Various Cyberattacks
We touched on data theft earlier, but there are many more types of cyberattacks that affect us and the Android devices we use. Denial-of-service attacks, password attacks, SQL injection attacks, phishing attacks—cybercriminals are never hurting for more ways to hack your device and steal your information.
Without vital security updates, your 2013 Samsung is at an increased risk of being targeted by these cyberattacks. What can you do?
Solution #3: Use a VPN
Besides practicing proper cybersecurity etiquette, you can always use a VPN. One of the many benefits of a VPN is it encrypts any data your device sends out. Keep in mind that many cyberattacks take place on public networks or not-so-secure home networks. Those networks together with the device vulnerabilities can cause immense damage— damage that could be prevented by using a VPN.
The lack of security updates for older Android devices has created an issue that probably won’t be fixed, as I don’t see there is enough demand for Google or Samsung to change their minds.
Fortunately, there are ways you can protect you and your Android device. Those security updates would be nice, but you make do with what you have. These solutions, however, make up for most of the vulnerabilities of your device.