Will Cyanogen creates an automatic update every night

Android: How to Solve Every Update Problem

Verena Ottmann

In addition to sensible user behavior, the security of a mobile device requires one thing above all: updates for the operating system and apps in order to plug critical security gaps. But sometimes these updates don't exist. We'll tell you what to do in this case.

EnlargeHow to get updates even if they are not yet available.
© Photo: © kaptn - fotolia.de

If you receive a message on your smartphone about an available Android update, this is usually a reason to be pleased: You will either receive a completely new version of the operating system with new and / or improved functions. Alternatively, the update can also be a security patch that Google sends out regularly on a monthly basis and that fixes security gaps and other dangers.

These security updates in particular have hit the headlines in the last few weeks: Employees of the security company Security Research Labs discovered that many companies only pretend that the patches on their mobile devices are up to date by using a fake date. The security experts found three to four missing patches on models from HTC, Huawei, LG and Motorola, and even more than four on ZTE. Nokia, Oneplus and Xiaomi performed more positively with one to three missing patches. There are no or one missing patch on Google, Samsung, Sony and Wiko. So if you want the most reliable security updates possible, you should choose a model from the latter manufacturer.

The reason for the missing patches is probably that manufacturers first have to adapt the Google patches to their smartphones and tablets - which is a lot of developer work.

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Find out the security level via the app

You can usually find the information about the most recently installed security update - as well as the information about the installed Android version - in the settings under "System", then "About the phone", "Device information" or similar. The update currently rolled out by Google always bears the date of the current month, so this should ideally also be here.

EnlargeOur Samsung Galaxy S5 is missing two patches, but they are already quite old.

In order to be able to uncover possible cheating on the part of the manufacturer, the security experts from Security Research Labs have developed an app that finds out the actual security level of your mobile device. "Snoop Snitch" analyzes the installed security updates and shows whether patches are missing. The app can also monitor network traffic on rooted devices and thus warn of attacks. However, the update check also works without root.

Install Snoop Snitch and launch the app. It now loads the necessary database for the check. In the main window you will then see bar graphs with the available providers - and how susceptible they are to attacks.

For the security check, tap on the gray button "Android patch level analysis", then on "Start test" to carry out the check. After the test you will receive a list of all allegedly installed patches sorted by date and their actual execution. The more green bars you see in this listing, the better. Red means that a patch is missing, violet means that the test was not clear.

No update: initiate manual search

Normally, a new version of the operating system is distributed as follows: Google introduces the new Android version, starts rolling it out to its own devices, and the other manufacturers follow weeks, if not months, later. The reason for this delay is that the manufacturers have to adapt the new software to their smartphone models - after all, almost everyone uses their own user interface that should continue to work.

EnlargeYou can search for an operating system update yourself in the settings.

If you have activated the automatic operating system update in the settings under "System", then "System update", device information "or similar, every new Android version will be installed without any action on your part. If you do not want this or are expecting an update that has not yet come, you can also search for a new version manually. To do this, tap on “Check for updates” under “System update”. If the search is positive, you can install the update. If Android does not find a newer version, you have to be patient and hope that the manufacturer of your smartphone will provide an update soon. The situation is similar if a security update is missing, which unfortunately you cannot upgrade yourself.

No update: install security suite

In order to effectively protect your mobile device from malware even if there is no updates, you should first install a protection app, such as "Avira Antivirus Security" or "Sophos Mobile Security".

EnlargeWithout the latest security updates, you should definitely use a protection app.

Protection against malware and viruses is an essential capability of these security solutions. The range of functions covers two issues: On the one hand, the file system of your smartphone or tablet is regularly scanned for known malware, and on the other hand, in most solutions, a real-time scanner operates in the background that analyzes, classifies and, if necessary, deletes new files. The basis for the investigation is a database in which the virus signatures are stored. If such a virus is detected, the software removes it independently or does not allow installation at all. Here, however, it is important that you install all updates for the virus scanner in order to keep the database up-to-date at all times.

The mobile security solutions offer you "Safe Browsing" functions against websites that install malware unnoticed or steal your log-in data using fake forms. A real-time scanner works in the background to monitor your actions on the Internet. If you try to open a suspicious webpage, you will receive a warning and the webpage will stop loading.

Finally, all apps are also scanned for malware - both before and after installation. A central database is again used as a reference. In order to be “up to date” right from the start, the protection app first scans all installed apps after installation and sends a list of results to a central database in the cloud. The list is then checked to see whether there are any suspicious applications among the apps. If so, you will receive a corresponding notification about direct removal. In addition, many apps provide an indication of critical or too many permissions.

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No update: Deactivate Android settings

EnlargeAs of Android 8, the option to install apps from unknown sources has moved directly to the settings of the individual app.