Android is the most popular OS in the world, but that doesn’t mean Google can take it for granted and ignore the numerous complaints regarding security issues. In fact, Google is quite intent on addressing the issues and has taken several measures, including monthly security updates.
What Google has done to make Android secure
On Wednesday, the search giant released its yearly security report for 2016. In the report, the company detailed the steps it took during the year, to overcome the security issues.
“Over the years, we’ve built a variety of systems to address these threats, such as application analyzers that constantly review apps for unsafe behavior, and Verify Apps which regularly checks users’ devices for PHAs,” the company said in a blog post.
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The company informed readers that it added numerous features to enhance security when it launched Android 7.0 Nougat, including streamlining the boot-up process to make it easier to install OTA updates. Other features were the re-building of components that helped prevent a Stagefright-like attack and file-based encryption. There were many minor changes as well.
Google also partnered with manufacturers and vendors, including NVIDIA, Qualcomm and MediaTek, to fix known vulnerabilities using monthly security patches. In all, the company fixed 655 vulnerabilities during the year, almost 275% more than it fixed in 2015. There are about 1.4 billion Android devices active currently, and nearly half of them have received the security patch.
Google even scans the Play Store regularly so as to block harmful apps. This helped it reduce Trojan frequency by 51.5%, phishing apps by 73.4%, backdoors by 30.5%, and hostile downloaders by 54.6%.
The most-patched phones in 2016
Google also came up with a list of Android devices with the most security patches for 2016: Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, Nexus 5, Vivo V3Max, LG V20, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Samsung Galaxy S7, Asus Zenfone 3, bq Aquarius M5, Motorola Moto Z Droid, Oppo A33W, Sony Xperia X Compact and OnePlus 3. You may notice that the names of major Chinese manufacturers such as Xiaomi and Huawei are not on the list.
Google was also successful in bringing down the amount of time taken by carriers and manufacturers to send security updates to smartphone users. Often, these carriers and manufacturers do their own testing, which delays the release. The search giant told TechCrunch that it was able to bring down the wait time from between six and nine weeks to several days.
Security lead Adrian Ludwig said, “In North America, just over 78 percent of flagship devices were current with the security update at the end of 2016.”