We recently told you that Google and some of its third-party manufacturers have pledged to release monthly security fixes for Android devices. With some 1 billion Android smartphones, tablets and other devices in use around the world, that's great. And, it's timely.
There's a very serious, newly discovered security hole that affects about 21% of Android devices, meaning some 210 million Android devices. It affects Android phones using Google's current Lollipop operating system.
This vulnerability is scary because it doesn't require any of the geeky smarts that hackers use to secretly break into your smartphone, and then install malware or listen in on your phone calls. This vulnerability just requires anyone to type a long string of random letters and numbers into your smartphone. Poof, just like that, they can access your smartphone, invade your privacy, and steal your personal information.
Worse, this bug exploits the very password that you use to keep criminals from using your smartphone. You're fine if you use a PIN or pattern to unlock your phone.
If you lock your phone, requiring you to type in a password, you may be at risk. Try this: Type a really long password, any password, into your Android phone. Eventually, it overloads the lock screen. It crashes, and opens right up to your home page. If you're testing it out, no problem. But what if a criminal got a hold of your Android device?
There's a little bit of good news here, but a lot of not-so-good news. The good: Google has issued a patch for its Nexus phones. The bad: If you're not using a Nexus phone, getting a fix might take a while. That's because your cellphone manufacturer or provider will have to issue its own patches.
This vulnerability affects smartphones that run Android, including Samsung, LG and Sony. Keep reading Happening Now to find out when your cellphone has a patch ready.