Android security updates for August 2021: What you need to know

by Joseph K. Clark

Source: Alex Dobie / Android Central

Google has detailed the latest Android Security Bulletin and released the fixes for Pixel devices. These are exploits and other security concerns that affect Android as a whole. Issues with the operating system, kernel patches, and driver updates may not involve any particular device. Still, the folks maintaining the functional system code need to be fixed in the Android base. That means Google and they’ve detailed the things they have improved for this month.

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Updated factory images for Pixel devices that are still supported are available, and over-the-air updates are rolling out to users. If you don’t want to wait, you can download and flash the factory image or OTA update file manually, and here are some handy instructions to get you started. The company that made your phone uses these patches to send an update out to you.

These changes have been released to the people making the best Android phones for at least 30 days, but Google can’t force anyone to deliver them to you. So if you’re using a phone from Samsung, LG, or anyone besides Google, you’ll need to wait for them to send an update and shouldn’t try to flash any of the above files. It might have already happened, as OEMs can send out the patch before the deadline Google must adhere to so that the exploits aren’t publicized.

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Of course, Google has safety checks in place to prevent any problems on your phone because of any security exploits. Verify Apps and SafetyNet are at work anytime you add an app to your phone, and seamless updates to Google Play Services will keep them up to date regardless of any hold up from a manufacturer or carrier. Details about Android Enterprise Security can be found here. Thanks to Project Mainline, devices with Android 10 and later may also receive security updates as Google Play system updates.

Highlights of August 2021 security bulletin

  • As usual, the Android Framework, Media Framework, and System libraries have had high-severity issues addressed.
  • Media Codecs, the stated service (a background service that collects metrics), and the Media Framework were updated through Project Mainline.
  • Qualcomm and MediaTek have updated both open and closed-source components to patch exploits found in their hardware.
  • Widevine DRM components were updated to address a critical vulnerability.

Pixel-specific updates

Every month, Google released some Pixel-specific patches that will affect phones currently being supported, including Pixel 3, Pixel 3a, Pixel 4, Pixel 4a, and Pixel 5. In addition to security patches, we usually see a functional update or bug fix, too. For August, an issue where you could accidentally trigger Google Assistant was addressed.

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