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Here's how Google made 95% of all Android devices more secure

Posted: , by Chris P.

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Here's how Google made 95% of all Android devices more secure
Before we dive right into this one, lets have a quick recap. With Android's reach now closing in on a billion active devices worldwide, Android malware has been a bigger concern than ever.

With the latest so called “Master Key” exploit attracting widespread attention, Google had to act quick, and it really did. It issued a patch that took care of the vulnerability to its OEM partners, and patched the Play Store almost immediately. Problem solved, right? Not quite, as you probably thought. Despite Google's best intentions, OEMs are infamous for their slow update cycles, and there was no telling exactly when the critical mass of Android devices would be protected from a threat that was already spreading in the wild.

Fortunately for everybody involved, word has gotten out that Google has, in a brilliant move, bolstered the security of some 95% of devices out there, and here's how. Remember Bouncer? It's Google's watchdog overseeing the security of its proprietor's Play Store. Well, with Android 4.2, Google introduced some of the functionality of Bouncer and called it Verify Apps. The new service would watch for each and every app that you download regardless of its source – be it the original app store or a side-loaded app from a third-party store – and guard you against attacks.

So where does that 95% figure come from? According to ComputerWorld, Google has made the Verify Apps service a part of the entire Google Play Services package (think Gmail, Maps and Youtube), and it is available for every single device running Android 2.3 Gingerbread and above. Or about 95% of all Android devices, according to Google's own stats.

"We wanted to make sure those protections were available even for users who were choosing to install applications from a source other than Google Play," Android Security Engineer Adrian Ludwig told ComputerWorld. "It's always been a focus for Android to make sure that we're supporting an open ecosystem and that it's possible for users to get applications that developers, for any number of reasons, aren't distributing through [the official Play Store channel]."

The ramifications of this are huge, folks! By deconstructing Android in this way, Google will be able to skip the glacier-slow OEMs and be able to issue security updates largely on its own. With this, and the recently unearthed “Apps Ops” feature making its debut in Android 4.3, Google really seems to have stepped up its game in terms of security, and we're the happier for it.

source: ComputerWorld 

26 Comments
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posted on 29 Jul 2013, 07:18

1. hmd74 (Posts: 332; Member since: 31 Jan 2013)


OK :|

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 07:39

3. xperiaDROID (Posts: 5554; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)


KO xP

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 07:28

2. darkvadervip (Posts: 331; Member since: 08 Dec 2010)


Google is still open source!

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 07:41 14

4. sss_ddk (Posts: 61; Member since: 05 Mar 2013)


No.Android is open source. google (as in google app like mail, play store, talk (hangouts), ..the rest) are not open source

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 07:41 4

5. protozeloz (Posts: 5378; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


And this is why even the fact that many android phones won't reach a new update doesn't mean Google has forgotten about them

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 07:44 12

6. xperiaDROID (Posts: 5554; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)


It's not Google has forgotten about them, it's the OEMs. *cough HTC LG cough*

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 08:12 7

7. buccob (Posts: 1480; Member since: 19 Jun 2012)


So... what criticism have iHeads about this? Its funny how there are no stupid comments from you know who in this kind of article...

Well done Google! keep it up on top.

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 13:09 1

19. stealthd (Posts: 969; Member since: 12 Jun 2011)


It's usually Android fanboys making stupid comments, not the other way around.

posted on 30 Jul 2013, 08:36 1

26. buccob (Posts: 1480; Member since: 19 Jun 2012)


Sure... keep telling yourself that...

Anyway do you have anything bad to say about the article? Somehow you guys always try to turn something this positive into a negative post...

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 08:40 3

8. itsdeepak4u2000 (Posts: 2691; Member since: 03 Nov 2012)


Some OEM are too lazy or slept tightly.

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 08:50 1

9. iGeek (Posts: 152; Member since: 15 Mar 2013)


And in the coming weeks we will hear about a Malware that will affect android phones ! They fixed one but there is still many floating out there !
WOW you are so happy about this fix android fans ! Well you shouldn't to be cause being secure is your RIGHT and though still 5% of android users which are millions( according to your calculations ) might be in danger and you can be ONE in these MILLIONS !

I don't know why you are impressed they just did nothing except their work.

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 09:01 3

10. yoavst (Posts: 16; Member since: 29 Jul 2013)


Well, this 5% have android version old then 2.3 (I don't have to tell you how old is that). Apple doesn't update devices that is so old too.

We impressed by google, because they took the initiative and secure them from this bug, Even that they don't must to do it - they have already secured the official place to download apps - Play store.

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 09:39 1

14. skyline88 (Posts: 329; Member since: 15 Jul 2013)


pointless to explain something to someone who put up a poster of Steve Jobs biting an apple, its gonna feel like bringing your pet dog to watch the opera

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 09:06 1

11. yoavst (Posts: 16; Member since: 29 Jul 2013)


Theoreticaly, OEMs don't must to update the devices (especially the old devices), because google secure the play store - the official place for downloading apps.
So if you download app from other place - it is your own problem (Apple...).
I don't say that the OEM shouldn't update old device, but about this bug - they don't must to.

But google did it, so All the compliments are for Google, for not forget the old devices...

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 09:12 2

12. iGeek (Posts: 152; Member since: 15 Mar 2013)


Well the iPhone 3GS was released with iOS 3.0 and got iOS 4 , 5 and 6 update ;) tell me about the nexus one how much google supported it ?? ;) don't consider ROMs and other stuff !
And if you wanna compare 4.3 to an apple release it almost like iOS 4.1 , 4.2.1 and 4.3 combined so this is not an incremental update bringing tons of new features !

According to what you have said then you believe that google must leave its android users in the battle and must do nothing about it cause they have already gave them a head armor only ! Most android users use third party stores to get there apps, and its google's responsibility to protect them! Securing the play store is not enough at all ( I bet most android fans here will disagree with you on this point ) you are so wrong

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 09:36 3

13. skyline88 (Posts: 329; Member since: 15 Jul 2013)


its funny when u mention the difference between 4.1, 4.2.1 and 4.3 when there is not even anything new from 1.0 to your so called latest and most innovative 7.0, besides copying bits and bytes of goodness from Android, Windows and Blackberry.

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 09:39 2

15. Sauce (unregistered)


Ignorance is bliss my friend.

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 10:37

16. iGeek (Posts: 152; Member since: 15 Mar 2013)


These are the changes of 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3 :

iPhone and iPod Touch only
Initial release on iPod Touch (4th generation).
Improved calendar colours.
Bug fixes
iPhone 4 proximity sensor issues.
Bluetooth connectivity.
iPhone 3G performance problems under iOS 4.0.[52]
Nike + iPod fixes and both the retina display.
Fixes white balance issue with iPhone 4 under certain lighting conditions.
Fixes FaceTime error where iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS users could enter "facetime://" URLs in Safari.
Game Center. P3,P4,T2,T3,T4,[53] no support for iPhone 3GP2,[54]
Updated carrier settings (US is AT&T 8.0).[citation needed]
Security updates to accessibility, FaceTime, ImageIO and WebKit.[55]
Improved AVRCP, adds support for Next and Previous.[citation needed]
Enables FaceTime call connection via email contacts (e.g. for iPod Touch (4th generation) users who won't have a phone number) and through favorites.[56]
Check spelling can be turned off in Settings.[citation needed]
P2P App support.[citation needed]
Nike + iPod statistics submissions over Wi-Fi.
Improved battery life across the board.[citation needed]
High dynamic range imaging (HDR) (only available for the iPhone 4).[53]
HD video upload over Wi-Fi (iPhone 4, and iPod Touch (4th generation) only).[52]
iTunes adds Ping, a social music network and discovery tool (only available in countries with iTunes Store).[53]
TV show rentals (only available for iTunes US Store).[53]
Can move an existing appointment from one calendar to another.
Notes syncing removed from iPhone 3G due to reported performance problems.[57]
Safari 6531.22.7, Webkit 532.9.[citation needed]
Restores Field test mode.[58]
iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod Touch (2nd, 3rd and 4th generation) and iPad (1st generation)
4.2[edit]
8C134 P2, P3, P4, T2, T3, T4
8C134b S1, S1C
05.15.04 P2, P3
03.10.01 P4
07.10.00 S1C
N/A, replaced by 4.2.1[59]
For iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad
Bug fixes
Birthdays calendar does not display birthdays starting more than 77 years ago.[60]
AirPlay (replacement of AirTunes, AirPlay will offer stream video, music, and photos over Wi-Fi).[61]
AirPrint wireless printing with Print Center (select models).[61]
Import .ics calendar files directly for events.
Improved battery performance.
Birthdays icon has been changed in the Calendar app.
Updated Carrier Settings (US is AT&T 9.0, UK is O2 9.1, Germany is Deutsche Telekom 9.0).
Text search on web pages.(P3,P4,T3,T4)[61]
2 new fonts for Notes in Settings (Helvetica and Chalkboard).
Safari 6533.18.5, WebKit 533.17.9.
Added support for Chinese URL over Safari.[62]
Added an indicator in the App Store which shows if an app supports Game Center.
Support for CoreMIDI.
YouTube voting.[63]
Minor improvements in UI graphics.
New parental controls for deleting apps, changing mail accounts and location services.[63]
The font size of text in Calendar can now be changed in the Accessibility settings.[64]
Security fixes.[65]
Network-controlled fast dormancy implemented in baseband to improve

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 11:43

18. kabhijeet.16 (Posts: 652; Member since: 05 Dec 2012)


too long..didnt read

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 15:25 3

21. av911 (Posts: 143; Member since: 19 Nov 2012)


How many of those "features" were allowed to be used by 3GS? How responsive were those "features" on the 3GS?

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 17:37 2

22. Googler (Posts: 813; Member since: 10 Jun 2013)


yawn.

posted on 30 Jul 2013, 01:53

23. skyline88 (Posts: 329; Member since: 15 Jul 2013)


cool, you have finally discovered Copy-&-paste function, am proud of u man.

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 15:18 1

20. sprockkets (Posts: 1236; Member since: 16 Jan 2012)


FYI, apple is no longer giving updates to your precious 3GS, only one year after they stopped selling it.

Which is exactly the same time period Google stops giving updates to Nexus devices.

Look it up: Same happened to the original ipad, the ipod touch, and everything else.

posted on 30 Jul 2013, 02:58 1

25. Tomfromsouth (Posts: 51; Member since: 02 Apr 2012)


"most android users use third party stores to get there apps'

Funny, I don't, no one I know actually does. So it's probably a tiny fraction.

Don't try be a smart ass if A, you're not smart, or B don't have the facts.

Suppose it's apple's responsibility to stop people rooting there phone. Mmm no. Grow a brain.

posted on 29 Jul 2013, 11:41 2

17. kabhijeet.16 (Posts: 652; Member since: 05 Dec 2012)


Keep it up Google... :)

posted on 30 Jul 2013, 02:29

24. Leo_MC (Posts: 551; Member since: 02 Dec 2011)


So, there's a "thing" in Play Store that has access to my personal content (apps) without me allowing it to?

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