As Google talks about the next billion people to get online being possible thanks to Android, many are worried about the security ramifications of these less expensive devices. As a whole, Android is a secure mobile platform, but that’s only true when the devices are kept up to date with security patches. Data collected by SecurityLab shows that if security updates are important to you then you should be picking up a smartphone from either Essential or Google.
Hardly any of the major Android smartphone OEMs have shown they’re capable of getting security updates out in a timely manner. Most can’t even deliver the updates on time for their flagship smartphones during the entire time they’re supported. This will continue being an issue for the next billion people to get online as they’re more likely to be purchasing an affordable smartphone. We have yet to see a company dedicate resources to keeping these devices updated.
If you can afford it though, data from SecurityLab shows that Essential and Google are the best Android OEMs for updating devices in a timely manner. It takes them less than a week for the first device to receive the new security update, while the rest of the market can take weeks or even months. Those who have purchased their device from a carrier are still waiting months (even with Essential and Google devices) before every device on that carrier is patched and up to date.
After Essential and Google, companies like BlackBerry, Nokia, and Sony have shown they are dedicated to the cause as well. They just tend to take a week or longer before they can get that first security update out. This is likely to not be an issue for those who are just using their phones to watch YouTube videos or surf online. However, we’re seeing more people handling their finances and making payments with their smartphones, so keeping these devices secure is only going to become increasingly important.