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Google Under Fire For Ignoring Android 4.3 Security Exploits

Google I:O 2014 Android Figure

If you’re still using an older Android smartphone listen up: Google is no longer tackling security exploits in earlier versions of its operating system, including Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. The news came out on Monday after the company declined to fix a problem with its outdated default browser.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Google was alerted to the security flaw late last year by researcher Rafay Baloch, but responded with an email explaining that, “we generally do not develop the patches ourselves but do notify partners of the issue.” The company also said that it’s willing to pass along any patches for older versions of Android, but won’t devote its own resources to solving those issues.

This might not seem like a big issue, since Android 4.3 is already several years old, but Jelly Bean is actually still the most common version of Google’s mobile OS. As of Jan. 5, Android 4.3 dominates at almost 50 percent of the market, with Android 4.4 KitKat stuck at 39.1 percent and 5.0 Lollipop running on less than one percent of all Android devices.

android distribution market share january 2015

If Google isn’t willing to fix these exploits on its own, the company should at least help customers with older Android phones update their browsers. The Mountain View firm also comes out looking pretty hypocritical here, after just recently calling out Microsoft for a security flaw in Windows 8.1, just days ahead of a fix. Now that the tables are turned, it will be interesting to see whether Google is willing to reverse its policy on fixing older versions of Android.

WSJ Google Gigaom

Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...

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