Mobile
News
11/5/2013
11:11 AM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Android KitKat Security Teardown: 4 Hits, 1 Miss

Google sweetens Android with SELinux, plus anti-rootkit technology that makes life difficult for malware -- but also for Android modders.

4. Per-User VPN

Another security improvement is the inclusion of a VPN which -- on multiuser devices, meaning tablets -- can be applied on a per-user basis. "This can allow a user to route all network traffic through a VPN without affecting other users on the device," according to Google.

But there is a caveat. "The downside is that -- from what we see with the AOSP build -- VPN settings are only available for the first tablet user, while other users have to do without VPN at all," according to BitDefender.

5. Finally, Individual App Permission Controls -- Not

One notable omission from Android 4.4 was the promised ability to review the permissions being used by apps, and to revoke them on an app-by-app basis.

"Back in Android 4.3, Android introduced a feature that was supposed to let users individually deny or allow permissions for every application installed on the device," according to BitDefender. "The feature, buried inside an activity called App Ops, was something both average users and security companies have been demanding for years and it would have been for sure nice to have it introduced in KitKat."

Now, however, App Ops appears to have been excised completely, following an Aug. 2, "completely remove app ops activity" change to the Android code base made by Google.

A Google spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to an emailed request for comment on the status of the App Ops feature.

Numerous Security Upsides

The uncertain status of App Ops notwithstanding, the KitKat security enhancements are good news for Android fans. As always, users of older Android devices may have to wait for weeks or months -- or forever, in the case of some particularly laggard carriers and manufacturers -- to see a KitKat update for their devices. But everyone else, including buyers of many new Android smartphones and tablets, will get KitKat installed by default, and from a security standpoint, benefit accordingly.

Previous
2 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
cbabcock
50%
50%
cbabcock,
User Rank: Strategist
11/6/2013 | 3:09:43 AM
re: Android KitKat Security Teardown: 4 Hits, 1 Miss
I'm glad to see Android get smarter about security. It needed to.
InformationWeek Elite 100
InformationWeek Elite 100
Our data shows these innovators using digital technology in two key areas: providing better products and cutting costs. Almost half of them expect to introduce a new IT-led product this year, and 46% are using technology to make business processes more efficient.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Must Reads Oct. 21, 2014
InformationWeek's new Must Reads is a compendium of our best recent coverage of digital strategy. Learn why you should learn to embrace DevOps, how to avoid roadblocks for digital projects, what the five steps to API management are, and more.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
A roundup of the top stories and trends on InformationWeek.com
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.