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By Adam Arruda | September 02, 2021

Make This One Move Now to Keep Your Zebra Android™ Devices Well-Defended Against Millions of Threats and Automatically Updated for Years on End

Think of it as hiring a security guard to protect your company’s mobile technology investment, your workers’ productivity, and a lot of very sensitive data.

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in September 2021. It was updated in June 2024.


There are over 100 million cyberattacks aimed at Android™ devices every year, yet there are probably only a few people within your company focused solely on fending them off. That’s why every member of your team has a role to play in data and device security, Zebra included.

Our job is to help you figure out how to solve complex business problems with simple technology solutions. Yet, technology in and of itself can introduce new challenges if not properly managed – cybersecurity among them. So, it’s our responsibility to help you maintain control of your Zebra devices and stay ahead of threats.

Though there are many different strategies and techniques you can employ to lockdown your devices, there’s one tool you definitely need to protect and secure them for the next several years: Zebra Mobility DNA LifeGuard. (And it’s preloaded on every Zebra Android handheld mobile computer and tablet!)

Going on the Offensive

One of the best ways to protect your workers’ Android handheld mobile computers and tablets against cyber threats is by proactively keeping the operating system (OS) and security patches up to date. In fact, 60% of cyberattack victims report that they "were breached due to an unpatched known vulnerability where the patch was not applied" - a 3% increase from three years ago. What's worse, in my opinion, is that 62% of victims say they were unaware that their organizations were vulnerable before the data breach, and over half (52%) believe their organizations remain to be at a disadvantage in responding to vulnerabilities because they use manual processes.

That’s why I’m such a huge fan of LifeGuard – and why I appreciate that my career has led me to a place where I can introduce you to this life-changing tool. Anyone who has a Zebra OneCare™ maintenance plan for their Zebra mobile computers will have up-to-the-minute insights into necessary security updates and a way to easily install them via their cloud-based access to VisibilityIQ™ OneCare feature. There’s no reason why a device should go unprotected.

In fact, when I first saw this stat about the number of preventable breaches, I wondered why anyone would hesitate to install a patch the moment it became available. It helps keep devices, data, business, employees and customers protected from bad actors by covering security holes or weaknesses. Then I thought back to the experiences I’ve had with my personal smartphone and realized that such updates can be very disruptive if not properly managed.

I typically can’t use my phone until the update is complete, and updates tend to start at the most inconvenient times. They also seem to come more frequently these days, take an exceptionally long time to install and require way too many device reboots. Someone once told me I should use this device downtime as an opportunity for self-care. But the only thing I care about when I’m up against a deadline is how much of a setback this will be and how much harder I will have to work to catch up. Not exactly a stress-relieving experience. I’m sure you and your team feel the same way too.

Plus, managing OS updates and security patches in a business setting is not as cut and dry as managing one’s personal device updates, which is why many companies are still struggling to monitor, update, and lock down devices on a regular basis. There are hundreds or thousands of devices that may need to be upgraded to the latest OS version, and they all need to be shielded 24/7 from a growing number of threats.  But maintaining some sort of balance between productivity and proactive device management puts most businesses in a pickle – especially the IT team members who are held most accountable for device security and performance.

Everyone knows Android OS and security updates are essential, as a successful cyberattack could be devastating. The fiscal impact of cybercrimes has nearly doubled in two years-time, jumping from just over $500 billion in global losses in 2018 to nearly $1 trillion in 2020. And the average ransomware attack will take a company's systems offline for 18 hours, according to the latest stats. Some have lost access to their data and devices for weeks.

Yet, even a few minutes of downtime can feel just as consequential these days, especially if you don’t get a customer’s order out on time or you’re trying to consult on a patient case in real time. So, I get why some companies or workers might stall the update a little too long – especially if they’re not using Zebra mobile computers or tablets. Not every device is equipped with a security-focused tool such as LifeGuard.

Because it gives IT the freedom to put updates on autopilot when desired and then take back control when needed, it’s easier to prevent issues from manifesting. It also makes it possible for companies to push updates in a timely manner, without disrupting front-line workers. That’s why I want to make sure every Zebra customer knows about LifeGuard, what it can do, and how to use it. It’s one of the many built-in advantages you receive when you buy a Zebra device, and the one that helps keep your devices running like new (and more secure than ever) year after year.

This Hands-Off Approach to Security May Just Give You More Control

LifeGuard’s Over the Air (OTA) service was specifically created to let you upgrade, protect and secure your devices with very little effort. In fact, once you update your current Zebra handheld computers and tablets to Android 11 or add new Android 11 devices to your fleet, this process can become completely effortless as you’ll have the option to turn on the Auto Update feature. Security patches and other updates will automatically install on workers’ devices no matter where they’re located, as long as they’re connected to a Wi-Fi or cellular network. There are other ways to manage the updates, too, so you and your team can maintain total control over when and how they occur, even if you choose most days to take a more hands-off approach.

For example, with Flexible Automation, you can pick and choose which updates to push to each device and when. If you want to preserve battery power during an update or prefer devices be cradled during the process, no problem. You can hold off on starting the update until the time is right, and everything is in place.

Even if you don’t have an enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution or your EMM doesn’t support LifeGuard, it’s easy to keep an eye out for new updates and then locate and download your selected updates in a single file from our website: You can even use Zebra’s Mobility DNA StageNow to manually update your Zebra Android devices.

Even better, with LifeGuard for Android 11, all updates happen in the background and only a soft reboot is required to finish the process. And the new Dynamic Packaging feature dynamically creates updates, taking your device from its current OS to the OS of your choosing with a single file that is optimized in size. Plus, there’s support for Google A/B streaming, so the update can be downloaded and applied on the fly. (You don’t need to find dedicated space to hold the file to get started.)  In other words, if you need to push updates during business hours, they won’t be too disruptive to front-line workers. IT will also have the option to use either Zebra’s cloud server or your own local server when downloading updates delivered via LifeGuard to keep this process from overburdening your network and hindering workers’ connectivity.

Curious about progress? There’s a LifeGuard Analytics report* that makes it easy to remotely monitor and manage device update status. You’ll be able to see instantly how many device updates are available, how many have been completed and those still outstanding.

Staging a Stronger Defense with Each New Security Patch and Android OS Release

As Zebra’s Chief Security Officer Mike Zachman reminds us often, what’s working great today may not be good enough tomorrow. There is no endgame with cybersecurity. You just have to do everything you can to increase your defenses and reduce your vulnerabilities each day. That starts with installing every security patch available and upgrading to the latest Android OS version as soon as possible.

It may seem like an impossible task, but it’s not.

If you take full advantage of LifeGuard, which is built into your Zebra mobile computers and tablets via Mobility DNA, you’ll be fully supported from an OS and security perspective for the life of your device, even as it reaches new stages throughout the device’s lifecycle.*


*Editor’s Note:

Though consumer OS security updates stop after three years, Zebra customers with a Zebra OneCare maintenance plan will have full device coverage, technical support and LifeGuard Analytics reports for up to 10 years. If you’d like to learn more, visit the LifeGuard for Android web page or check out these additional resources:

Energy and Utilities, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Warehouse and Distribution, Transportation and Logistics, Retail, Field Operations, Hospitality, Public Sector, Security, Article, Software Tools,
Adam Arruda
Adam Arruda

Adam Arruda is a Product Manager responsible for driving Zebra's partner-facing Administrator Tools strategy. He has more than 15 years of technology industry experience and has spent the past eight years in the Mobile Management and Support space. He works closely with ISVs, OEMs and VARs to help customers execute effective mobile strategies.

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