Security in computer systems is really important. And, of course, that includes mobile phones as well. Android is a very popular system and is sometimes targeted by attackers and malware developers. This forces Google and the rest of the manufacturers to be very vigilant and constantly look for gaps in the system. Once detected, they are closed thanks to tools such as security patches. What exactly are they on Android? What are they for? How to know what patch your mobile has and how to get the latest one available? All of these issues are discussed in this article.
What are Android security patches and what are they for?
The term “patch” is often used in the software world to refer to an update or modification that tries to fix a security problem. Therefore, when we talk about Android security patches we mean updates explicitly released to keep the device safe.
On the first Monday of each month, Google publishes all the vulnerabilities found by its technicians and the technicians of its partners on the official Android security page. All detected problems are ordered taking into account what is its severity. According to the company itself, the most dangerous flaw is the one that allows code to be remotely executed in the terminal with advanced privileges.
Based on the bugs found, an update is prepared for Android AOSP (Android Open Source Project) that eliminates the detected gaps. From that moment on, Google’s partners, generally renowned manufacturers such as Samsung or Xiaomi, pick up the baton and include the security patch in their updates. It is not uncommon for these companies to release updates for the sole purpose of implementing the monthly security patch.
In short, an Android security patch is an update that eliminates bugs, gaps, and other problems in the system’s source code. Its purpose? Prevent and avoid external attacks. With this in mind, the importance of these updates in the Android world is clear. In view of this, many manufacturers supply them for years, even when the device no longer receives new versions of the operating system.
Differences between Android security patches and Google Play updates
Since the arrival of Android 10, Google has fragmented security updates in two ways. On the one hand, classic patches, which are implemented at a deeper level of the operating system and modify its source code. In this case, it is necessary for manufacturers to release complete system updates and, depending on their goodwill, these arrive more or less frequently. So Google made changes to this traditional model.
He did it with Google Play security patches, which do not depend on the manufacturers and are installed from the application store. This is possible thanks to the fact that Android has become, over time, a more modular operating system. With the arrival of Android 12, these types of security updates cover more fields. That minimizes the responsibility that manufacturers have on the release of patches and implements security measures for all users.
How to know what security patch I have
If you want to know what is the patch you have installed on your device, go to the phone settings and open the section Security. It is possible that in some layers of personalization this information is in the section About phone.
Security options in Android 11
Under the section Security update You will see when you received the latest Android security patch. Knowing that Google releases them on a monthly basis will help you get an idea of how up to date your device is.
Security patch version
In the section Google Play system update You will be able to see the date of the last Google Play security update.
Google Play update version
How to install the latest security patch
To get the latest patch provided by the manufacturer, you must update the device. Do it by going to the section Software update.
New version of the system available
Tap on the button Update now to start the download and installation. As you can see, in our case the update includes a new security patch.
Once the Android update is installed, repeat the process mentioned above to verify that you have the new security patch.