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Why Android is safe from a WannaCry-like ransomware attack

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Unlike the Google Pixel, most Android devices are running on outdated operating systems.


James Martin/CNET

The WannaCry cyberattack has ensnared more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries by taking advantage of outdated versions of Windows that never got Microsoft’s crucial security patches.

Hmm. Millions of devices that are stuck on older versions of an operating system and don’t have access to the latest updates. Where have I heard that one before?

That is, after all, one of the key problems with Android. Only 7.1 percent of its 1 billion users are on Nougat, better known as Android 7.0, the latest version of the mobile operating system. Nearly a third run on Android KitKat or older — versions that came out more than three years ago.

“Over time, the more that Android versions age out, you’re going to have an increasing attack surface for bad guys,” said Josh Feinblum, vice president of information security at Rapid7.

But worry not, Android users. There are key differences between Windows and Android that keep the mobile operating system safe from WannaCry’s clutches. Even with so many different flavors of Android, including versions tweaked by phone makers like Samsung or LG, it’s unlikely that users are in for a wide-scale attack.

So for now, the WannaCry ransomware — a cyber shakedown in which hackers lock your computer and demand money to fix it — is solely a problem found on Windows.

Here’s why:

Monthly updates

Despite Microsoft patching the security vulnerability that had been leaked from the NSA in March, many of the systems held hostage by ransomware never had a chance to get the upgrade. That’s because thousands of computers, including those used by hospitals hacked in England, are still running on Windows XP. Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP with updates in early 2014, leaving many vulnerable to the last three years of new malware.

Why the WannaCry cyberattack is so bad, and so avoidable

A new wave of the ransomware spreads chaos around the world. Paying the ransom may not cure computers, which could have avoided infection by simply keeping Windows updated.

Read Full Content at: Source CNet

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