Rolling out security updates to Android devices has been one of the most challenging problems for Google until now. With the launch of Android N, users are guaranteed to feel a little more safe and secure when using phones that run the latest version of Android.
Google Android N, set for release in the fall of this year, will pack key security enhancements that support automatic updates, file-based encryption and Mediaserver hardening, as announced by Android security team head Adrian Ludwig during the Google I/O developer conference on Thursday.
The move is part of an effort to step up Android’s security features by Google, which last year gave a glimpse of early security improvements to its mobile operating system with the debut of Android for Work security tool on Android Marshmallow. A year later, the mobile operating system looks poised to address some of the perennial security problems with Android devices in the midst of a growing threat landscape at least to mobile.
For one, the automatic security update feature will help devices that have the latest version of Android install software updates in the background so that the device will be able to automatically turn into the update once it reboots. This will hopefully address the issue of diversity among Android devices, which for years has been making it difficult to streamline the rollout of software updates to the handsets, including security updates.
Another way to secure Android, as Google sees it fit, is finally to implement file-based encryption, and security is essential for Android especially that it has a mobile nature. With file-based encryption, you can have a more specific decision on what data to encrypt.
One thing that makes for vulnerability to bugs is when components that handle unreliable content have deep privileges and access to a device. With Mediaserver hardening, Google aims to address that loophole and lessen the privilege of components that contain untrusted content by isolating those parts. Mediaserver works to process media content, but it has also become the most popular attack vector in the Android ecosystem, making it easy for attackers to exploit its flaws.
Android N focuses of least privileges to better enhance the device security. One of things that attackers employ to take control of a device is privilege escalation, and so with Mediaserver hardening, the privilege escalation efforts of cyber crooks will be countered. These and more will see the light of day when Android N finally releases.