Intel chip flaw: Millions of Android smartphones may need to be replaced for users to stay safe

Google has said that mobiles and tablets that have the latest security updates installed will be protected

Aatif Sulleyman
Thursday 04 January 2018 15:25
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Intel chip flaw: The problem affecting everything from the smallest phone to the largest web infrastructure

Millions of Android users may need to purchase a new phone in order to protect themselves against the major chip vulnerability affecting a huge number of devices.

Google has updated its products and systems to defend users against the issues, which could allow hackers to steal people’s private information.

However, a significant proportion of Android smartphones and tablets made by the likes of Samsung and LG are – and will always be – stuck on older, unsupported versions of the operating system, and could therefore remain at risk.

Google has said that Android smartphones and tablets that have the latest security updates installed are protected from the security issues affecting Intel, AMD and ARM chips.

Unfortunately, this implies that any Android smartphones and tablets that are running unsupported versions of the operating system will not be protected.

If this is indeed the case, that would mean that millions of users stuck on older versions of Android will only be able to ensure their safety by replacing their handsets with newer models running current versions of Android.

Google, however, has attempted to reassure concerned users by saying, “On the Android platform, exploitation has been shown to be difficult and limited on the majority of Android devices.”

Android is notoriously fragmented, because it’s used on a wide range of devices made by different manufacturers.

These companies often make tweaks to the operating system, in order to promote their own products and services. Because of this, it can take a long time for them to release software updates to consumers.

Google phones, like the Pixel and Nexus, on the other hand, run pure versions of Android, which means they receive updates as soon as they’re available.

As of 11 December 2017, more than 20 per cent of Android users were stuck on versions of the operating system that are no longer receiving security patches from Google.

These include KitKat, Jelly Bean, Ice Cream Sandwich and Gingerbread, all of which were released more than four years ago.

Google revealed that there were more than two billion active Android devices in use as of May 2017.

That suggests that potentially hundreds of millions of smartphones and tablets could remain exposed to hackers, and may need to be replaced by their owners if they’re to stay safe.

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