Data has become one of the most sought after commodities, so it's no wonder that every major mobile platform developer is doing everything they can to ensure their ecosystem is locked down.The good news for Android Marshmallow (6.0) users is that the release includes very important improvements that go a long way to protect your device. One addition allows you to quickly find out the security patch level on your smartphone or tablet.
It all started with the Stagefright vulnerability. Once the dust settled from that disaster, Google (and Samsung) made a promise to start rolling out monthly security updates. To that end, they decided to include a field in the device settings that would list for users to see when the last security patch was applied to the operating system.
Google also runs the Android Security Bulletin, which gives a detailed overview of each monthly security release. This means you could look at your Security Patch Level on your device and then go to the Security Bulletin to make sure you not only have the latest, but also what's included in that particular patch. Each vulnerability is listed as Critical, High, or Moderate. The details for each vulnerability are listed as well.
How to find your patch level
The Security Patch Level can only be found on devices running Android Marshmallow. The Security Patch Level is exactly where you might expect: go to Settings | About Phone and scroll down until you see Android Security Patch Level (Figure A).
Android security patch level on a Verizon-branded Nexus 6. At the time of this writing, the latest security patch was on February1, 2016.
If you find your security patch level is out of date, immediately check for an update via your normal route (such as, on a Nexus 6, Settings | About Phone | System Updates). If there is an update available, run it.
Is it enough?
Google is taking Android security seriously. Now, users of Android 6.0 have the means with which to know if their devices have the most recent security patches applied.
But is this, along with the other security enhancements that come with Marshmallow, enough? If you were leading the charge for Android security, what would you change? Let us know in the comments.
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.