When you hear the word "smartphone" and the phrase "security flaw" together, your thoughts probably turn immediately to Android. After the recent news about flaws like Stagefright affecting nearly every Android gadget, it's only natural. While Apple gadgets can also have security flaws, and a recently discovered one could net a hacking team $1 million, it's generally more secure than its competitor.
One of the reasons Android is more vulnerable to hackers is because it lets the user do more. It lets you install apps from any source. Plus, it has always supported apps that can modify basic parts of the operating system, such as third-party keyboards like Swype or automation apps like Tasker. That means malicious apps have an easier time installing and making huge system changes.
Android is also in use by hundreds or even thousands of manufacturers around the world. Each one likes to add its own apps and change other parts of the operating system to make its gadgets stand out from the other Android-based competitors.
Unfortunately, these apps and changes often add even more security holes than Android would have on its own. That's just the case with one popular new smartphone, as a team of Google security experts just found.
To make Android safer, a while back Google started a group called Project Zero. It's a team of security experts that does nothing but find and fix Android bugs. It also reviews Android gadgets on the market.
In fact, Project Zero just published the results of its week-long in-depth security review of Samsung's S6 Edge smartphone. According to The Verge, the team found "11 high-impact security issues," including major problems in Samsung's email app and photo gallery app.
To Samsung's credit, it fixed the worst flaw within 90 days, and three other high-risk areas that make up the remaining flaws are set to be fixed in November. This is a good start to the agreement between Google, Samsung and LG that they're going to push out monthly Android security updates.
However, there are more than 1,300 brands making Android gadgets, and no way anyone can test all those products for security flaws. With manufacturers making and updating their own versions of Android, it's also unlikely that many of the less popular gadgets will get the latest Android security updates.
To stay safe, you'll need to be careful what apps you install and who you let on your Android gadget (although that's also good advice for Apple users as well). Learn the 7 steps you need to take right now to start protecting your smartphone or tablet.
Thinking of switching over to Apple? Find out how the new iPhone 6s line stacks up against the Samsung S6 line. Or see all your options for high-end smartphones with this handy comparison chart.