Banned Android App Store: Enterprises Beware - InformationWeek

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1/24/2012
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Banned Android App Store: Enterprises Beware

A well-known Android developer plans to create a store for applications that Google has banned from the Android Market. Proceed with caution.

10 Worst Android Apps
10 Worst Android Apps
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Koushik Dutta, a well-known Android developer and member of CyanogenMod, has decided that orphaned apps need a place to call their own. Dutta suggested the idea online earlier this month, and after receiving hundreds of responses encouraging him to go for it, that's exactly what he is doing.

Dutta has taken it upon himself to create an application store for apps that have been banned by Google, according to TechCrunch. The CyanogenMod Store, as it is initially being called, is still under construction and a launch date has not been revealed.

This unofficial and unsanctioned app store will serve as a place for Android modders to find apps such as carrier-unapproved tethering applications, game emulators, custom ROMs, and more. While the Android Market isn't as heavily curated as the iPhone App Store, Google does occasionally yank apps for one reason or another. Dutta's store will be a place those yanked apps can eventually land.

The key knowledge point here is that users will have to first root their Android smartphone in order to gain access to the CyanogenMod store.

One of the many advantages of the Android platform is the ease with which it is rooted. Rooting an Android device--similar to jailbreaking an iPhone--gives users the ability to install custom versions of the operating system. It also gives them access to non-approved applications and services that non-rooted devices can't use.

[ Developers are focusing hard on the Android market. Read more: 2012 Is Android's Year For Developers, Says Ovum. ]

There are risks involved with rooting, however, that need to be managed by IT.

First, the act itself of rooting can fail, leading to a bricked smartphone. Bricked smartphones need to be replaced, which costs hundreds of dollars for the hardware and days' worth of lost productivity. Rooted devices are also more susceptible to viruses and malware.

Whether the device is company- or employee-owned, smartphones used for business purposes should not be rooted for a number of reasons. Installing custom ROMs might be fine for the advanced user, but it can negate IT controls and policy features. The malware risk, while small, can't be ignored either. Google has already cleared the Android Market of malware a number of times. Dutta hasn't provided any information about how the CyanogenMod Store will be combed for nefarious applications.

Without a launch date, the CyanogenMod Store is not an immediate concern, but it is certainly something that IT departments will have to keep on their radar.

How can companies find and fix vulnerabilities before they lead to a breach? Better yet, how can software developers identify flaws in their applications before the new software is ever deployed? In this report, Eliminating Vulnerabilities In Enterprise Software, Dark Reading offers a look at some tips and tricks for software development and vulnerability assessment. (Free registration required.)

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