There are so many different Android manufacturers it’s hard to keep track of them all. Some smartphones even have custom versions of the Android operating system — like Samsung’s Galaxy series. This makes it tough for Google to make consistent updates that fit every device.
With multiple versions of Android on the market at once, it’s no wonder that security flaws are such a big deal. Tap or click here to see a dangerous Bluetooth flaw affecting billions of Android phones.
At the end of the day, it’s tough for Google to micromanage device makers. If a custom version of Android has a security issue, Google can’t always push a one-size-fits-all update to fix it. That’s why the company is taking a new approach and listing Android devices that might be at risk for hacks. If your phone is on Google’s new list, here’s what you need to do.
Google decides to name and shame device-makers
Android phones outnumber iPhones by a huge margin — which makes it tricky for Google to check every version of software for security bugs. And not every smartphone maker has been consistent with security updates — which is why Google is rolling out a new program designed to keep up the pressure.
The Android Partner Vulnerability Initiative is a new list published by Google that shows security flaws in custom versions of Android. Manufacturers like Samsung, Huawei and ZTE will see their phones posted here if issues pop up that need to be patched.
The goal, it seems, is to name and shame device makers so Google isn’t left holding the bag when hacks start happening.
Google’s plan is a double-edged sword. On one hand, smartphone owners will know about security risks facing their phones much sooner. On the other, device makers will be pressured to fix these flaws or face the wrath of users.
Right now, the list is thankfully short. If your device is featured on it, though, it means there’s an unresolved security issue that Google can’t patch away. You may want to tread cautiously the next time you use your phone to get online.
What’s on the list? Is my device at risk?
Google’s AVPI list can be viewed here on the official Chromium bug-check website. Don’t worry — Google owns this domain, so it’s safe to visit.
As you can see in the screenshot above, almost all of the issues seem to be fixed except for two. This means the pressure campaign is working — but this may not always be the case going forward.
If you’re an Android fan and you don’t have a Pixel, HTC or Nokia device, bookmark this page and check it regularly to see if your phone shows up. If it does, you’ll want to avoid making purchases online or sharing sensitive information until the issue is fixed.
In the meantime, the smartest thing you can do is protect your online accounts with security features like two-factor authentication. Even if your phone somehow gets hacked, you’ll be in much less trouble if your accounts are safe.
It’s good to hear that Google is taking device security seriously. If only it cared as much about the problems lurking in its own app store. Tap or click here to see 17 dangerous Google Play apps you need to delete right now.