Over one billion Android devices are at risk of being hacked or infected by malware because they are no longer supported by security updates and built-in protection.

This conclusion was reached by the UK’s consumer watchdog, Which?

It discovered that at-risk smartphones are still being sold by third-parties via sites like Amazon, despite being vulnerable to a wide range of malware and other threats.

Interestingly, and somewhat alarmingly, Google the creators of the Android operating system discovered that 42.1% of active Android users worldwide were running version 6.0 (known as Marshmallow) of the operating system or even earlier versions.

However, Google is only providing security updates to version 10 of the Android operating system, Android 9.0 (Pie) and Android 8.0 (Oreo).

To illustrate the problem Which? tested Motorola X, Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 and Sony Xperia Z2 phones from Amazon Marketplace sellers and discovered they were vulnerable to a wide variety of malware.

What do I do if I have a vulnerable phone?

Clearly, if you can update to Android 8, 9 or 10 this will solve the problem.

But if you can't, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself:

  • Back up your data such as contacts and other data you don’t want to lose. This will save you in the event of a mishap.
  • Be wary of SMS text messages and MMS messages that include pictures, video or audio content you weren’t expecting. In these cases avoid clicking on links or opening attachments.
  • Download BullGuard Mobile Security. It’s FREE and provides smart protection for your Android smartphone or tablet against all types of malware, spam calls and theft. A low-cost version that includes parental controls is also available for those with kiddies.
  • Keep in mind that a lot of Android malware is loaded in apps that come from unofficial app stores. That said malware-loaded apps can also creep into the official Google Play store. So be aware. That said BullGuard Mobile Security protects you against malware.