Google’s Android mobile operating system is maturing itself every year, and to keep it visually cute, all the Android operating systems come with the name of some mouth-watering desserts, Lollipop, Nougat, Oreo for example. Well, most Android users, whether they are geeks or not are aware of Android P, which is a hot topic of discussion today. Google has given Pie to this new version of Android with love. But hey, Oreo is tastier than a dumb slice of pie! Well, you can order your preferred piece of dessert after a mouth-watering main course in your favorite restaurant, but better stick to an Android Pie based smartphone, if security is your first priority.
With every new version of Android, Google introduces something, which can be helpful for its users. No, Android P or Android Pie is not an exception to that, as well. Just like other versions of Android, Android Pie also has a number of new features, which I have already covered, and you can find them in the following link. Well, improvement or new additions is a way of life. But Android P is something pretty different from just new features and UI improvements. Apart from adding new features and functionalities, the major improvement in Android is the security. There are a number of improvements, which I will be listing in this article.
Well, Android P is or will be available in only a handful of smartphones at present, chances are there it will be made available by most manufacturers in the new smartphones at the beginning of 2019. Though I can’t assure about its availability in different smartphone present. Now let’s get started with the security improvements in Android P aka. Pie.
Better security for the camera, microphone, and other sensors
The camera is not used not only when you take those cool selfies with your mates and at the time of doing a video call. The same goes for microphone and other sensors within your smartphone. Camera, microphone, and other sensors might also be used by other apps from time to time. Even sometimes without notifying you about it. Needless to say, those apps can also record your private conversations with your office colleagues, or can even record videos of your private moments. Horrifying isn’t it! Well, my intention was not to frighten. As most apps do not behave that immature. But it was possible in versions prior to Android P. But with Android P, it will be difficult for the apps to do that as you will get live notifications, when your camera, microphone or any other sensor is in use. What will happen is that all the apps, which want to use the camera, microphone or other sensors should also run a foreground app. In layman’s terms, you will get clear notifications whenever the apps want to access your camera, microphone, or other sensors of the device.
Well, that being said, Vivo Nex and Oppo FindX are two smartphones which are offering hardware-based solutions, with a motorized camera, where you can easily understand whenever your device is trying to capture a photo or record a video.
Better encryption for backed up data
Whatever data you back up to the Google servers, are encrypted by Google and you can restore the same data when you purchase a new handset or tablet. With Android P, as well, there will be encryption, but at the client’s end. It means, before sending the data to the Google servers, all the data will be encrypted on the handset itself making things more secure. When it comes to client-side encryption, a key is necessary, and that will be generated with the help of the user’s device PIN, pattern, or some other unique information, which is related only to the user.
The advantage is well defined. It will now be more difficult for other users to see your private data, thus making the security stricter.
Random MAC addresses for improved security
Each device or Network Interface comes with a unique address, called MAC address, which can hardly be changed. Talking about smartphones, each time you connect to a new Wi-Fi network, the MAC address is preserved in the Wi-Fi network you are connecting to. Now, whenever you connect to multiple Wi-Fi networks, your location can easily be traced with the help of the MAC address, which is recorded on different Wi-Fi networks. But things will be different in smartphones based on Android P or Pie.
With Android P, a new and unique MAC address will be assigned to your smartphone, each time it connects to a new Wi-Fi network. Well, the assigned MAC address will remain the same though every time you connect to the same Wi-Fi network from your smartphone. It will differ only with the Wi-Fi networks you connect to. Thus, it will no longer be easy to trace your device’s location by knowing the Wi-Fi networks you have connected to, within a certain period of time.
Warnings for apps using outdated APIs
With every new Android update, the APIs or the Application Program Interfaces also gets updated, which offers better security compared to the outdated ones. Now with Android P, you will get warnings, each time an app uses some old API, which might not be that secure or good for you. But that doesn’t mean, you will not be able to use apps, which are based on old APIs.
If you are not aware of APIs, they are small set of programs, which is used by different apps to run properly on a system. Well, to make normal users aware of the problems associated with the use of old APIs, Google should show a message in proper English, which can be comprehended by users of all classes. As it is needless to mention, not everybody knows about API, and if a message like ‘Apps using old API’ pops up, most users will ignore it may be for improper understanding or by not paying enough attention to it.
Well, those were the top security improvements which can make you feel privileged if you stick to a smartphone or get one with the latest Android P. There are other improvements, as well, like improved protection for insecure network traffic, protecting your device unique identification ID and many others. Security improvements are the most necessary improvements, which most novice users do not pay attention to. But better security makes a lot of sense.
Well if you are not a lucky guy to enjoy a slice of pie at present, and is really worrying about security, here are a few tips, which can come in handy for devices running Android Oreo or older Android versions.
Look before you install
Each time you attempt downloading a new app from the Play Store, look at the permission requests carefully, as that can disclose a lot about the true motive of the app. Why a game should get the access to your rear camera if it is not a game based on Augmented Reality or AR. Thus, if you find, the permission it is asking for doesn’t make a lot of sense, depending upon the functionality of the app, avoid downloading the app. Just in case you need to download it, try denying the unnecessary permissions it needs. Well, the app might or might not work in such a case, but it will be good for your privacy.
Ditch third-party sources
Is your phone among those flagship ones capable of running Fortnite? No! Avoid downloading any apps from other sources unless you are compelled to download it from an authentic website or from other websites for some genuine reasons. Different apps from third-party sources might contain malicious codes, which can cause serious security and privacy issues with your device.
All that free is not safe
Just like all that glitters is not gold, everything that is free is not safe. Avoid connecting to free public Wi-Fi, as they can be traps to collect your private data. Just in case you are connecting to a free and public Wi-Fi at the railway station, airport or at a coffee shop, better use a VPN to encrypt your traffic. VPN can also collect your data, but the consequences will not be as worse when an individual with no proper certification collects it.
Avoid rooting your phone
A common craze among so-called geeks. There is no doubt, rooting your smartphone might open additional opportunities but it can also open doors for hackers to hack your smartphone. Just like, with great powers, come great responsibilities, with rooting your smartphone, you also need to take proper care of it. Thus, I will recommend you to avoid rooting your smartphone unless you are sure about what you are doing, or have no other options other than doing so.
Download security updates fast
I know, most manufacturers are pretty lethargic about rolling out security updates, but if your manufacturer is among those good guys who roll out timely security updates, download them as early as you can to avoid any further problems. I will also recommend you to go for smartphones, which offer timely security updates, as that really matter a lot, if you depend a lot on your smartphone. Most flagship phones, and Android One based phones like the Nokia 6.1, Nokia 7 Plus, Redmi A1, OnePlus 6 are known to dispatch faster updates and security patches.
Well, those were the things, which you should keep in mind to keep yourself safe when you are sticking to your smartphone. Do you know any other ways Android P is going to offer better security or the ways to keep a smartphone safe? Feel free to comment it down below.
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