Updated 13.05.2020 17:51
If you like to use your smartphone for more than two or three years, you should take some safety precautions. Otherwise hackers have an easy job.
- Old smartphones no longer receive security updates.
- This makes it easy for hackers to exploit weaknesses.
- Old cell phone users should therefore handle personal information with care.
- Phones are supported for an average of two to three years.
There are many reasons to want to use an older smartphone. Be it to produce less electronic waste, because the phone is still working properly or because newer devices are often expensive. But there are also reasons why you shouldn’t use cell phones that are too old; above all, this can be dangerous from a safety perspective.
Older phone models often do not receive any updates from their manufacturers and therefore no more security patches. If hackers find a back door in the phone’s software, it is no longer repaired and can be used in an uncontrolled manner. Often, these spread quickly on the Internet.
How do I find out if my smartphone is still secure?
It’s not easy to find out whether a phone is still getting security updates or not. Manufacturers usually do not announce when a cell phone is no longer supported. However, there are a few guidelines you can follow to find out if a smartphone is up to date with security or not.
For example, it can be checked in the settings whether the software of the mobile phone is up to date. If the last update was months or even years ago and no new one is available, the device is very likely no longer supported by the manufacturer. This often happens after around two to three years. The exact number of years depends on the manufacturer.
Loud Cnet.com Google, for example, guarantees security updates for its cell phones for three years. All Nexus phones have already lost their security updates and the Pixel 2 will fall out of rotation this October. With iPhone, it is five years during which the cell phones are supported due to the smaller volume on different phones. The latest iOS13 can still be installed on the iPhone 6S from 2015. Samsung publishes on each this website a list of phones that get updates. This way you can check whether your own Samsung phone is still supported.
How do I still use an old phone safely?
As Christoph Hebeisen of the security company Lookout told Cnet.com, it is safest not to use an old phone. Because security gaps can always and often go unnoticed on these devices. If you still don’t want to part with your old cell phone, you can take some safety precautions.
Every new update for Android or iOS has to undergo a long security test and is constantly checked for possible gaps. This takes a lot of work and cannot be done for all old versions of software. Therefore, only newer phones are still supported by the manufacturers. As soon as the software is no longer updated, security risks for certain telephones spread quickly in hacker communities and can then be exploited.
First of all, the last software update should be installed. Anyone who has bought their device used should also make sure that it has been correctly reset to the factory settings before use. In addition, only apps from the relevant app store and no APK files should be downloaded.
You also have to pay attention to what information is processed by the old device. So it should be avoided if possible to store bank data or banking apps on the mobile phone. Work accounts and emails should also be handled with care. It is best not to install them on the old device. The same applies to photos – only the images that you would voluntarily share on the Internet should be saved on the phone.