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The flaws in this case affect Android 4.1 to 4.3, aka Jelly Bean, which began shipping in mid-2012 and was the primary version of Android through late 2013, or roughly 14 months ago.
Up until quite recently, Google has aggressively patched problems in Android’s Web View rendering engine.
Before Kit Kat (Android 4.4), all versions of Android used the version of Web View found within the Android Browser for rendering HTML webpages.
With Kit Kat and Lollipop, Google updated the operating system to use a Web View plugin derived from its Chromium project.
When it comes to providing security updates for previous products, various manufacturers have pursued different strategies.
Some, like Microsoft, tend to provide security updates long after they’ve stopped selling an operating system (Microsoft only stopped providing Windows XP support last year).
Others, like Google and Apple, have pursued tighter timelines for security updates.
Google is now doubling down on that schedule, refusing to patch bugs in Android 4.3 or prior, even when those bugs could expose critical vulnerabilities on nearly a billion devices.
When Security firm Rapid7 discovered a new exploit in the Android Browser version of Web View, it contacted Google to inform the company that Android 4.3 and below were vulnerable.