Is it safe to use a phone that no longer has security updates?

You may be wondering, Is it safe to use a phone that is no longer receiving security updates?

Smartphones do not receive the same extensive software support as laptops and desktops. However, smartphones still play an important role in daily life and hold the key to users' digital identities. So you may be wondering, "Is it safe to use a phone that is no longer receiving security updates?"

Updates often patch vulnerabilities in an operating system. So what are the real security risks of using an old, outdated phone that doesn't receive updates? And what can you do to stay safe if you have no choice but to use an old cell phone?

Security risks when using outdated phones

Basically, you first need to know what security updates actually are.

In simple terms, a security update is a software update that mainly focuses on patching existing bugs or vulnerabilities to improve the security of the software. So if a hacker discovers a way to remotely take control of your device, this is a bug and a security update can help fix it. This is unlike regular software updates, which enhance the software experience by improving things or adding new features.

So why is using a smartphone that doesn't receive these updates a bad idea? And what effect does it really have?

Security experts advise against using not only smartphones but also any smart devices and software that are no longer supported. This is for good reason and has profound security implications.

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The basic reason is that using an outdated phone makes your data vulnerable to hackers. As stated above, the main reason behind security updates is to patch existing bugs. In the real world, there is no such thing as bug-free software - every software has vulnerabilities. If there aren't, then they simply haven't been discovered yet. That's important to remember.

Because hackers dig deep into software to discover vulnerabilities, and when they find what they want, they start leveraging those vulnerabilities to commit crimes. Additionally, cyber criminals share all the vulnerabilities they encounter in software, which makes things worse. Because outdated phones don't have a chance to be patched, they are often easy targets for criminals.

It doesn't matter whether you are using an Android or iOS device. Security updates are a must. It is one of the ways to ensure that your smartphone is secure.

The security industry is constantly evolving as hackers try to discover vulnerabilities before cybersecurity experts. On the other hand, security experts also try to catch vulnerabilities and patch them before the bad guys get their hands on them. As an end user, this means you should always be on standby to update your Android phone or iOS device as soon as any kind of update is available.

How to stay safe when using smartphones is outdated

Ideally, given the risks outlined above, you should not use an outdated phone. But that is sometimes easier said than done because it requires you to upgrade your smartphone every 2 to 5 years. Update support times will vary, depending on your smartphone manufacturer and device price

And since constant upgrading isn't a viable option for many, you'll be glad to know that you can continue using your outdated phone but with risk precautions in place. First, make sure you're running the latest software update. This certainly sounds redundant, but making sure you have the latest software version running on your device is a good idea.

On Android, you can check this by going to Settings > System > System Update . Remember, the exact steps may vary depending on each Android device. You can do the same on your iPhone by opening Settings > General > Software Update . You should check out the complete guide on how to update your iPhone, from apps to iOS.

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The second tip is to only download apps from official app stores: Google's Play Store and Apple's App Store. This isn't a big deal on the iPhone, as iOS doesn't allow app sideloading unless your device is jailbroken. That's one of the many reasons why iOS is superior to Android in terms of security.

However, on Android, you should be extra cautious because the operating system allows you to download apps from third-party sources. Although there are some safe websites to download APK files on Android, you should also check thoroughly before downloading the application. The same applies to apps offered through the Google Play Store because Google doesn't always catch all the bad apps on its store.

Third, you should regularly update your application. Hackers can also use applications that you install on your smartphone to conduct exploits. Like smartphone operating systems, applications also contain bugs and vulnerabilities. That's why you should update them regularly.

Finally, you should apply safe security practices when using your phone. These measures may include:

  1. Avoid downloading files from untrustworthy websites.
  2. Avoid connecting to unsecured public WiFi.
  3. Regularly review and delete apps you no longer need.

Additionally, you should install security applications; protect your phone with a PIN, passcode, or any available biometric security feature; Avoid opening suspicious emails and use your phone's built-in security features like app permissions. Following these methods will ensure that you stay out of trouble.

Should I use an outdated smartphone?

The short answer is no, you should not use a phone that is not receiving updates. The main reason is the lack of security updates making your phone vulnerable to bad guys.

Cybercriminals come up with new ways to bypass security measures in software and get hold of users' confidential data. To prevent this, cybersecurity experts are constantly working to stay ahead of the bad guys, which isn't always effective but is important. You should always update your device if an update is available.

If you can't afford to constantly upgrade your phone, you can still stay safe by making sure you have the latest software version on your device, avoiding downloading apps from third-party stores or websites. Third, regularly update your apps and apply security practices in daily smartphone usage.