Smartphones have changed our lives for the better. We're now able to accomplish so many important functions on the go that used to be confined to a desktop computer. Banking transactions, booking vacations and sending business emails to name a few.
So much of our personal data files are stored on these handy gadgets, it's horrifying to think about a cybercriminal breaking into them. Unfortunately, a flaw has been discovered in millions of phones that could result in hackers completely taking them over.
What smartphones are at risk?
A vulnerability was discovered in a Wi-Fi chipset manufactured by Broadcom. These chipsets are used in millions of gadgets that run both iOS and Android.
Google's Project Zero researchers, who discovered the proof-of-concept flaw, said hackers are able to execute malicious code, "by Wi-Fi proximity alone, requiring no user interaction." They are able to use malicious code through Wi-Fi signals and completely take control of the victim's gadget.
There is good news for Apple users. The tech giant already patched the flaw in its iOS 10.3.1 release earlier this week. Click here to learn how to update your iOS and more about the patch.
The bad news is for Android users. Millions of Android gadgets are still at risk from this vulnerability. Here is a list of impacted phones:
- Nexus 5
- Nexus 6
- Nexus 6P
- Samsung - This includes most flagship Samsung gadgets
Google actually has come up with a patch that will fix the vulnerability. Unfortunately, not all Android gadgets have received the update. That's because carriers or individual manufacturers need to push Android updates out over the air and they are on a fixed schedule. It could be weeks before every Android gadget receives the update.
What you need to do
It's important that you check for system updates. Android typically updates the operating system automatically, but you can look for updates before that occurs.
To check for updates: open Settings >> tap About phone >> tap System updates >> tap Check for updates. If there is one available it will download automatically, you just need to restart the device for it to install.
If the update is not available for your gadget yet, you should not connect to a public Wi-Fi network. Just leave Wi-Fi turned off when in public, this might help keep hackers from taking over your phone, but it's not 100 percent guaranteed.