Recent figures released by Google have revealed that just 1.2 per cent of Android phones have the most up-to-date version of the operating system installed. This is a clear indicator of just how inconsistently security fixes are implemented across Android devices, and how assuming that the operating system alone can keep apps safe is a naïve approach. This is according to app security specialist Promon.
According to the latest statistics, the most popular versions of the Android operating system are Lollipop 5.0 and 5.1 (installed on 32.9 per cent of devices) and Marshmallow 6.0 (30.7 per cent of devices), despite these versions being released in November 2014 and October 2015 respectively.
This alarming tardiness regarding the implementation of updates means millions of Android users possess devices which still have security flaws that should have been eradicated long before now.
Lars Lunde Birkeland, Head of Communication at Promon, said: “These latest figures are a stark reminder that things aren’t getting any better when it comes to rolling out the most secure versions of Android. Only a small proportion of users are actually benefiting from the extra security features offered by Nougat, meaning sensitive user data stored within apps is at risk. This is something we demonstrated with our Tesla vehicle app hack in November last year.
“The proliferation of Android devices and manufacturers means that controlling what OS is present on every device is an impossible task. As a result, businesses and app developers shouldn’t be spending time waiting for this issue to remedied by individual device manufacturers.”
According to Birkeland, it is now more important than ever for organisations to take their own steps to secure their apps, in order to minimise the potential impact of a data breach. This would require a shift in philosophy in terms of the way many businesses regard cybersecurity skills, as well as a more comprehensive turn towards software which makes apps self-defending.
Birkeland added: “Organisations need to prioritise the training and hiring of talented cybersecurity specialists who are experts in the workings of the mobile channel.
“Such a shift should lead to a stronger focus on employing software solutions which protect individual apps from the inside out. Such solutions ensure that an app – and the sensitive user data it contains – is secure, whether or not the Android device on which it is installed is running an outdated, insecure version of the operating system.”