If you’re the owner of an Android cell phone, you’ll want to take a second out of your day today to stop, drop and update your apps to keep your information safe.
According to Consumer Reports, more than 500 apps have been affected by a recently discovered vulnerability in code. This flaw allows people with malicious purposes to install spyware on users’ phones and access their sensitive data.
A mobile security firm named Lookout first noticed something shifty going on with Androids. When they dug into their suspicions, they found out that a certain string of code introduced a vulnerability to any apps created with it. That essentially allowed third parties to install undetectable malware on people’s phones.
Fortunately, Lookout let Google know about the issue quickly. Google immediately removed or updated all affected apps to correct the problem.
However, not everyone updates their apps regularly. So, many people could still have the spyware on their phones, but not know it.
Lookout didn’t name many of the apps affected, but it did describe a few of them. Named apps included LuckyCash (with 1 million downloads) and SelfieCity (which had 5 million downloads). Other unnamed, affected apps included games targeted at teenagers (one with over 50 million downloads), weather apps, internet radio apps, photo editors, and other apps that involve education, health and fitness, travel and home video.
How to update your Android apps
To me, that sounds like a whole bunch of the apps we use on a daily basis. Since Lookout didn’t release many specific names, you’ll want to make sure that all of your apps are up to date.
To do so, go to the Google Play Store and select “My apps & games” from the drop-down menu in the upper-left corner of the screen. There, you’ll see a list of apps that require updating. Make sure you update them all to protect yourself.
After that’s done, you should be in the clear. But remember to update your apps (and phone software) regularly to stay safe in the future, too.