The developers behind Android regularly push new patches that make Android devices more secure. In some cases, like if you have turned off your automatic updates, you may not be running the latest security patch.
Here’s how to check what version of Android you’re running, and how to upgrade if you’re not on the latest version.
What Are Android Security Patches?
Android security patches are special patches designed to improve your Android’s security features. No operating system is perfect, and hackers are always discovering new vulnerabilities in Android. As a result, it’s crucial to keep your security software up to date.
You can also check the latest security patch by reading Android’s security bulletins. These bulletins also detail the fixes in each new security patch if you’re curious about which security flaws the Android security team is working on.
Security patches update automatically by default. However, depending on your phone’s manufacturer or how you have configured your update preferences, you may not be running the latest security patch – even if your system is otherwise up to date.
Android developers label patch levels by their launch date. For example, the security patch launched on Nov. 5, 2019, has the label “2019-11-05.” Almost always, the Android security team pushes two or more security patches around the beginning of each month. If your security patch has a date that is a few months old or older, that’s a good sign it’s out of date.
Some phones are also old enough that they no longer have manufacturer support and won’t receive new security patches. If you have a Pixel phone or Nexus device, you can check Google’s Help Center to see if they still support your device. For other devices, you’ll need to contact your phone’s manufacturer.
Updating to the Latest Security Patch
You can check which version of Android you’re running using your phone’s Settings menu.
To access the Settings menu, follow these steps:
1. First, swipe down and tap the gear icon in the top right of the screen. You can also access the Settings menu from your full app list.
2. Tap Security.
3. To check if a new security patch is available, tap “Security Update.” You’ll need to make sure you have internet connectivity for this step.
4. If a new update is available, your phone will let you know. The system will then guide you through the update process.
You can also check for all possible system updates by returning to the main Settings menu, then tapping System, Advanced, and lastly System Update. As with the security update, your system will guide you through the process.
If your phone can’t connect to the Internet, or you want to keep your phone unconnected until you have the newest patch, you’ll need to download the update using another device, then transfer it to your phone.
The exact steps will vary depending on your phone’s model and manufacturer. In most cases, you’ll be able to update your phone with a process like this:
1. Using a desktop or laptop, find, download and install the desktop software provided by your phone’s manufacturer.
2. Open the desktop software and download the latest update for your device.
3. Connect your phone to your desktop or laptop.
4. Find and click the icon called “Update” or something similar. You may see a prompt to find and select the update file you downloaded in step two.
5. Follow any on-screen prompts to complete the update process.
Keeping Your Android’s Security Patch Updated
Hackers are always searching for new vulnerabilities in phone software that they can use to take control of devices and steal user data.
In response, the Android security team regularly develops and launches security patches that close security vulnerabilities as they discover them, keeping user data safe. However, it’s possible to have your updates turned off, which can leave your phone unpatched and vulnerable to attack.
Fortunately, updating an Android phone isn’t challenging. Navigate to your phone’s Security sub-menu, then check if a new security patch is available. If one is available, your phone will start updating automatically.