Yes, you can ensure your technology survives obsolescence

First we buy a gadget. Over the next few years, the manufacturer occasionally releases a software update that fixes bugs and protects us from vulnerabilities. One day these updates will stop coming. According to popular belief, this is the time to buy a new device.

But what if not?

The truth is, upgrades don’t have to be that automatic. We can often delay them if we follow some security best practices and take control of our personal technology. After all, it’s unrealistic for everyone to upgrade on a tech company’s schedule — some devices, including expensive Android phones, stop receiving software updates after just two years. Not all of us have the time or money to buy new products on a regular basis.

At the same time, we don’t want to keep our gadgets for so long that they become vulnerable to bugs, cyberattacks and other vulnerabilities. For these reasons, software upgrades are usually required. Everyone needs to be able to safely use technology to live and work, said Hilary Shohoney, executive director of Free Geek, a nonprofit that recycles obsolete machines for schools and seniors.

“We need to cross the line between the reality of many people and the realization that everyone needs to be involved in the digital world,” she said. “It’s not fair to say that you need the best computer to get the best security.”

So how do we walk this line? While a new gadget has to be bought at some point, there are some ways to keep your devices running securely even when the manufacturer has stopped providing software updates. Here’s what you need to know.

Follow best security practices

Think about how we use technology. On computers, much of what we do, from handing in homework to editing spreadsheets, happens through a web browser. When it comes to phones, we rely heavily on the internet and apps.

So, to be safe online without direct help from a manufacturer, you largely have to take steps to browse the web and use apps. Here are some things to look out for:

Keep your browser up to date. Keeping up to date with browser updates offers some protection against malicious websites. Trusted browser companies like Mozilla, the maker of Firefox, update their apps to work on computers older than 10 years.

As always, avoid suspicious behavior. Don’t open messages or click on links from unknown senders, and only use apps from trusted brands whenever possible, said Sinan Eren, an executive at Barracuda Networks, a security firm.

Be on the lookout for shady apps. Android devices are more prone to malware than Apple phones, partly because they can be set up to install apps from unauthorized app stores. In addition, many manufacturers stop supporting Android devices after two years. Google declined to comment. Owners of outdated Android devices can add a layer of protection by installing a malware scanning app from brands like Malwarebytes, NortonLifeLock, and Lookout.

Secure your online accounts. Even if your device’s software is outdated, setting up your online accounts with two-factor authentication — a security method that generates a unique code via an app or text message when you log into a website — can help prevent inappropriate Prevent access to your account in the event your password is stolen.

Following all of the above steps will reduce the risk but not eliminate it. Dan Guido, CEO of Trail of Bits, an internet security firm, said legacy devices are wide open for attackers to exploit due to known vulnerabilities in legacy software.

“Unsupported devices are a stable target – a sitting duck – for attackers,” he said.

Install another operating system

There are more advanced steps that can be taken to keep a device functional and secure beyond its supported lifetime. On the one hand, the manufacturer’s software system is replaced by an alternative.

Shohoney’s Portland-based nonprofit organization Free Geek is reviving old PCs by installing a copy of Linux, the open-source operating system known for robust security and for basic tasks like surfing the web, sharing e-mail, Mails and the writing of documents is used.

Installing another operating system requires some technical know-how, but countless online resources and tutorials offer step-by-step instructions for adding Linux to legacy Windows and Mac machines.

Smartphone owners have fewer options. For Android, LineageOS, an open-source mobile operating system, has received positive reviews for its robust security.

However, outdated Apple mobile devices cannot be easily modified to install an alternative operating system. In fact, security experts advise against “jailbreaking” or injecting unauthorized software as it can weaken the security of the Apple device.

Reuse your old device

We may also take actions with our hardware such as: B. replacing an aging battery to keep our devices running. But over time, when the cost, hassle, and risk add up and make reviving a device impractical, upgrading is your best bet.

That doesn’t mean we have to take our devices to a recycling center. For example, by turning off an outdated iPad’s Internet connection, you can safely use it for light tasks like playing music or writing down recipes, said Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit, a company that provides tools and guides for repairing tech products .

“If it’s not connected to the internet, it doesn’t matter that it’s outdated,” he said.

About Willie Ash

Check Also

10 big announcements from Red Hat Summit 2022

IBM subsidiary Red Hat used its annual summit event to whet the appetite of developers …