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8 Android Security Concerns That Should Scare IT

Even though mobile operating systems such as Android are superior to PCs when it comes to protecting against security threats, there still are several concerns that IT should beware.
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(Image: Andre Kheren via Pixabay)

(Image: Andre Kheren via Pixabay)

Compared to traditional PC operating systems, the Android smartphone OS is far and away more secure. That's right. It's more secure than PCs mainly because the mobile smartphone space is so new. Android OS developers learned from security mistakes of the past, and they made significant strides in blocking those threats right from the start.

After all, every week in the news we hear about dozens of tremendously dangerous new Windows vulnerabilities and exploits, but it's still fairly rare to hear about a major security flaw in the Android OS that requires a user to patch or upgrade immediately. Think about it: We don't have a "Patch Tuesday" for Android, do we?

Even though mobile operating systems such as Android are superior to PCs when it comes to protecting against security threats, there still are several concerns that IT should beware. Android-based smartphones continue to gain popularity among consumers, and even if they're not officially allowed in your operations, they are surely making their way into your enterprise nonetheless.

Android is a unique OS compared to its other direct mobile competitors, such as Apple iOS, because of its adaptability and flexibility. Android has the unparalleled ability to be the jack-of-all-trades OS for smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, appliances, and even our automobiles. And as the Internet of Things comes crashing down on us, Android is almost certainly going to be the go-to OS to operate most IoT-connected edge devices.

The key aspect that surrounds most Android security concerns has to do with the fact that it's highly customizable. Hardware vendors often make modifications to the stock Android OS to tailor the software to a specific piece of hardware. While this is an incredible feature, it can also be considered one of Android's greatest security flaws.

Because we anticipate massive growth potential for the Android operating system, it's important that IT becomes familiar with certain aspects of the OS — and its user community — that may make it more vulnerable than other mobile operating systems. The key to finding a solution to a security problem is to understand the security flaw in the first place. That's what we'll attempt to help you do on the following pages. If you think we missed a major Android security flaw — or if we overstated a concern – tell us all about it in the comments section below.

Andrew has well over a decade of enterprise networking under his belt through his consulting practice, which specializes in enterprise network architectures and datacenter build-outs and prior experience at organizations such as State Farm Insurance, United Airlines and the ... View Full Bio

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SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
3/24/2015 | 2:41:37 PM
Re: Android Users Slow to Upgrade
@nomii I agree, but the basic template of security must be strong enough. What other companies do is etch another layer of coded security on a phone and that causes latency issues and lag. 
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
3/17/2015 | 8:30:09 AM
Re: Android Users Slow to Upgrade
I think that the security should not only be considered as the job of google alone, in case of android, rather the companies who are customizing the android for their own devices should also take the responsibility of ensuring the security of their OS.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Ninja
3/14/2015 | 11:48:51 AM
Re: Android Users Slow to Upgrade
I am sure these customized safety measures brings some peace and comfort to Android users. I am sure competitors will step up their security game now.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
3/13/2015 | 8:55:57 AM
Re: Android Users Slow to Upgrade
@W_Albany: The manufacturers are using customized android for the devices but I think such security updates should be published that doesn't need to be reviewed by the manufacturers because they would be beyond the look and feel customizations done by the manufacturers.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
3/13/2015 | 8:43:41 AM
Re: App permissions abuses may pose greater danger than rooting.
That would be a good option but it won't be used by many because most of the no technical users will get confused about which permission should be granted and which one to be revoked. Even if google will try to educate the users about the permission, it will be so lengthy that many users will even not bother to read.
Andrew Froehlich
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Andrew Froehlich,
User Rank: Moderator
3/12/2015 | 1:33:48 PM
Re: App permissions abuses may pose greater danger than rooting.
"Too bad there isn't a way you can go into the settings for each app and modify the permissions."

@tjgkg -- That would be a great feature -- it would also likely break the functionality of some, but not all apps. I fully agree that Google needs to crack down on devs that abuse permissions. Thanks for commenting!
Andrew Froehlich
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Andrew Froehlich,
User Rank: Moderator
3/12/2015 | 1:30:33 PM
Re: Android Users Slow to Upgrade
@W_Albany — I'll agree with your statement — and perhaps I should have worded differently. But from an IT support perspective, the point is still valid no matter who is to blame. Thanks for the comment!
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
3/12/2015 | 8:24:32 AM
Re: App permissions abuses may pose greater danger than rooting.
@tjgkg, This is something that I really wish Google would implement but I fear that it would end up with a lot of complaints about apps crashing unexpectedly. I've lost count of how many apps I've decided not to install because it wanted access to my contacts and it had no reason to need that access.  I would love to be able to just say no to allowing the app that access but then I think about what the average person might do and consider that they might do something like try to install a camera app and then deny the app access to the camera and go give a 1 star review because the app doesn't work.
organ donors, inc.
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organ donors, inc.,
User Rank: Guru
3/11/2015 | 2:58:08 PM
Re: open source is more secure
No joke! I am really disappointed that people keep saying this after all this time. It is the same kind of argument used by climate-change deniers, or by Big Tobacco when presented with overwhelming evidence that smoking causes cancer. Wake up, people.
W_Albany
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W_Albany,
User Rank: Strategist
3/11/2015 | 2:42:45 PM
Android Users Slow to Upgrade
The article says:

"Compared to the next most-popular mobile operating system, Apple's iOS, Android users are incredibly slow to patch and upgrade their operating systems."

The problem with Android is that users are dependent on their device manufacturers and (for phones) mobile carriers to review, modify (i.e. add skins and bloatware), and then push out the update.

Tha wording of the article makes it sound like the users are slow, but they are not to blame.
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