Yet another facet of KitKat worth pointing out today is the addition of new security enhancements to the OS. Security is one area that's frequently sensationalized with Android - it seems that every few days a scare story about Android malware creeps onto my Google News page. Google's eliminating security arguments (and possible arguments) one at a time, though, and has made a few key enhancements this time around.
According to Google, less than one hundredth of a percent of apps out there are both malicious and capable of evading the built-in defenses in both Android and the Google Play Store. But if you really feel like you need a defense from that one-in-100,000 app, a trusted name in software protection has just entered the fray. Malwarebytes, makers of the popular eponymous Windows software, is now offering its services on Android.
You hear a lot of reports about malware and other undesirable third-party apps these days, especially from security researchers (and people who want to sell you something to make you feel safe). It's undeniable that malicious apps are a problem on an open system, but new data from Google indicates that the amount of actual harm being done might be negligible. QZ.com reports on a presentation from Google's Android Security Chief Adrian Ludwig at the Virus Conference in Berlin.
Google will soon roll out changes to Voice intended to prevent unauthorized access to our voicemail inboxes. To access accounts via phone, you will now have to call from a verified forwarding number. If you're calling from a number Google doesn't recognize, you will be prompted to enter a verified number instead. In addition to this, PIN codes can now be up to 10 digits long. These changes will take effect starting on the first day of October, and anyone who signs in via a web browser should receive a notification giving them a head's up.
When Google launched the Android Device Manager in early August, I applauded the initiative because we finally got a much-needed security solution that was built into every Android devices that ships with Google's services. Rather, it was a good start, since the functionality was so limited: location, remote wipe, and alarm.
For the last two days, I've been digging around the new Google Play Services APK 3.2.64 that started rolling out to Android devices everywhere.
These days, it seems like everybody is trying to make Android more secure. As usual, rooting and modding are often casualties of this effort. Just over a month ago Android 4.3 broke the existing model for root, forcing updates to existing methods, and now Samsung is rolling out updated Android 4.2.2 firmwares for the Galaxy S 4 which fully enable the company's heavily secured KNOX environment. Fortunately, Chainfire is already on top of it and has updated his popular root software, SuperSU, to be compatible with the new system.
Piper is a nifty little gadget that combines a number of recently deployed technologies to create a connected and hyper-aware home automation hub. The project has been getting a lot of press since it appeared on Indiegogo a couple of weeks ago, and it passed its $100,000 funding goal today. There's another twenty days before the project ends, so the creators won't be wanting for funds.
Piper is essentially is a little box that's stuffed with a ton of sensors and WiFi connectivity, making it the hub of a connected house.
CyanogenMod is already one of the most polished Android ROMs out there, but as the dev team says in the most recent blog post, running a custom OS shouldn't mean you're lacking first-class features. To that end, CyanogenMod ROMs will soon include CyanogenMod Account for encrypted device management. The account provider is already in CM's Github, but don't get too ahead of yourself – the CyanogenMod Account isn't rolling out right away.
When it comes right down to it, few things are much scarier than finding out somebody can track your movements, read your call log and text messages, and even record audio and take pictures of whatever the phone can get, all without your knowledge. Here's the thing - as careful, security-conscious people, many of us already install software like that for our own purposes, usually to recover a phone in the event it should fall into the hands of thieves.
Avast has been busy today. The company has released its new Mobile Backup app in Google Play, and it looks to have an okay feature set (it was previously in beta). The Mobile Security and Antivirus app also got a substantial update. Mobile Backup will grab your contacts, call log, images, videos, SMS, and more, then upload them to the cloud for safe keeping.