Security is getting a heavy boost in Android Q

  Jun 14, 2019 5:10:31 AM

Android Q is scheduled for release in the third quarter of 2019. The Internet is abuzz and speculations are rife about Q’s name; it is a tough nut to crack. Android fans are betting on the likes of Qurabiya, Quindim, Quesito, Quik, Queen of Puddings, and Quiche (that’s not even a dessert, or is it?). We will have to wait until August to find out. While we wait, let’s take a dive into what awaits us in Q.

Market reports suggest that Android’s market share is growing exponentially across devices due to its flexibility and ease of use. While Android enjoys an 85% market share in the consumer device segment, its market share in the enterprise device space stands at 78% today. While the same features make the operating system attractive to the enterprise segment, managing and securing these devices, across their lifecycle, remains a challenge for device makers. While it is understandable that security on enterprise device is critical because they store business-sensitive data, consumer smartphones also need to be secure because the usage of smartphones for financial transactions has increased substantially.

With an aim to make the operating system more secure and reliable, Google has built a robust ecosystem of device makers, tier-1s, and service providers over the years and Android has overcome the perception of not being as secure as other competitive operating systems. Recently, Gartner ranked Android higher than iOS in most of the security aspects. According to Avast’s latest Threat Landscape Report, there were 60% fewer security attacks in 2018 than in 2017 owing largely to significant drops in attacks that attempted to gain root access to a device, known as ‘Rooters’, which fell 77%. This reduction is attributed to security enhancements in Android. With Android Q, Google has taken it a step further and announced that security and privacy will be their primary focus areas. While a new mobile experience awaits users in the consumer device segment, enterprise device users will get an improved work experience and more IT control.

Kaspersky reports suggest that the number of attacks on Android devices has increased by 8.4% in 2018. In Android Q, OEMs will get a host of updates that will provide enhanced security for enterprise devices ultimately benefitting the end users.

Privacy enhancements have got a boost with Android Q. Google enhanced developer and user friendliness for greater security and privacy and introduced the scoped storage feature. This enables developers to avoid declaration of storage permissions to access the files the app creates and uses. Google has created separate Privacy and Location sections under the Settings tab. In the latest version of the OS, users will have more flexibility of controlling their location data with reminders about which apps are using location data. Along with protection for sensitive data like serial numbers, they will also be providing faster security and privacy updates. Google will be providing background updates of operating system components so you can get the latest security fixes without having to reboot your device and to deal with possible network vulnerabilities, Android Q will use randomized MAC addresses.

In the recent years, Google has introduced many data protection features such as file-based encryption, default SSL, and a separate work profile. This year, they have improved Google Play Protect, which scans over 50 billion apps every day. The Google Play Protect can now scan apps across all your devices that have Google Play even without a Google account. They will also be providing better native Android security protections. Dynamic partitioning will be another feature to watch out for. This will avoid the problem of one partition getting full while another has free space.

Google will also be providing delegation capabilities in Android Q that will enable IT admins to appoint a specific or preferred app to handle network activity logging or the selection of certificates. They will also have the control to block app installations from unknown sources across their entire fleet of devices with additional protections against malware.

Sasken has been a part of the Android ecosystem since 2009 and has been instrumental in making devices secure by working with several leading OEMs to provide regular security updates in a cost-effective way. Sasken’s extensive Android experience and its relationship with chipset vendor help them to support device makers effectively. Today, Sasken provides best-in-class Android Security Management services that enable OEMs to reduce efforts in managing security upgrades and provide long-term maintenance of their devices.

Posted by:
Krishna Kishore
Senior Architect

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