You might have heard that Amazon disabled the option for software encryption in the latest version of its Android-based Fire OS for the Kindle Fire series of tablets. (This isn't new - Fire OS 5 has been rolling out to various tablets since last year.) And if you read news that isn't Android Police, you probably also know that it's not the biggest story involving encryption right now. After consumer backlash following the Apple-FBI encryption case, Engadget reports that Amazon says it will return software encryption in the next major update.
Customers might have had something to say about the loss of encryption capabilities even without the highly public spat between Apple and the FBI over the San Bernardino iPhone case. Read More
Two bills recently passed in the states of New York and California that aim to weaken smartphone security in order to combat crime. The laws would prevent the sale of smartphones with full-disk encryption that could not be unlocked by the manufacturer (at the request of law enforcement). In response, Rep. Ted Lieu of California, a Democrat, and Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas, a Republican, have proposed a bill, the Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications (ENCRYPT) Act of 2016, that would block state-level attempts to ban encryption on smartphones sold in the US.
The bipartisan bill addresses multiple issues. Read More
The Turing phone, advertised as "unhackable," looks and sounds like a handset that would never see the light of day. Call it a work of science fiction, a fanboy's wet dream of a device materialized out of Robotech. But prototypes exist and pre-orders have gone live. Thing is, that promised shipment date of December 18th has been delayed. Read More
The tireless developers at Team Win released their custom Android recovery for the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X last week, but at the time it didn't support decryption. This makes working with the stock software (which Google encrypts by default, gleefully thumbing their noses at the NSA and FBI in a show of customer protection) somewhat tricky. But ROM flashers and phone modders can now use the latest version of TWRP on the Nexus 6P with the encrypted stock software, or any other ROM that uses the feature. The latest version is 188.8.131.52. Read More
With every major Android release comes a new version of Google's not-so-famous Android Compatibility Definition Document. As reading goes, it is roughly between the excitement level of "doing your taxes" and "doing somebody else's taxes." Which is to say, I am well-caffeinated this morning. Anyway, the newest version of the CDD for Android 6.0 contains a change we've been on the lookout for since Lollipop was announced last year: mandatory full-disk encryption.
Since the announcement of encryption being enabled by default of the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9, Google has been on the encryption warpath (rightfully so!), and did in fact attempt to make this change in the initial Lollipop CDD back in January. Read More
Since the Snowden leaks began back in 2013, there has been a justifiable increase in public scrutiny of the US federal government's attitudes towards surveillance and information access. So when President Obama voiced the opinion that encrypted files should be accessible to law enforcement (presumably via some kind of backdoor or exclusive decryption method), privacy advocates joined security experts in a nationwide groan. Thankfully the administration seems to have changed its tune nine months later.
According to a report by Reuters, White house spokesman Mark Stroh said that the administration is no longer looking to introduce encryption-weakening legislation to Congress. Read More
Despite some interesting tablet hardware in the earlier days of Android, French manufacturer Archos hasn't had anything notable to show for several years. Perhaps that's why the company is jumping into the small but growing niche of ultra-secure cell phones, like the Blackphone and the Turing Phone. Archos has partnered with SIKUR (read: Secure), a vendor of encrypted company-focused communications apps, to create the GranitePhone. It's available to purchase today for a whopping $850.
Thanks to the GranitePhone's Android-derived "Granite OS," basically everything on the device is encrypted, even the custom homescreen that eschews a conventional grid layout for a modified version of the SIKUR inbox. Read More
The Nexus 6 had a lot of fine qualities, but the sluggish storage performance was a disappointment. This was mostly due to the automatic device encryption, which was managed by software rather than hardware. In today's Reddit AMA, the Nexus team was asked about encryption support in the Nexus 5X and 6P. VP of Engineering Dave Burke responded, saying it's still software-based, but it should be even faster than hardware encryption this time. Read More
If you're in the market for the Turing Phone, you already know who you are. This is an Android phone designed around the idea of being completely unhackable. It doesn't even have a USB port or headphone jack that could be used to manipulate the software in some fashion. Niche products like this often have the feel of vaporware, but the company has posted a release and order timeline for the Turing Phone. So they're at least trying to make it happen. Read More