Android 11 to Get Significant Security Boosts

John Lister's picture

Android devices will are getting some key security changes. The tweaks to the permissions system are meant to reduce the need to weigh up security against convenience.

The changes will come in Android 11, which begins rolling out to handsets this month. Because its an open source system, the new version of the operating system will take longer to get to some brands than others, and older phones and tablets won't ever get it.

The main changes are to Android's permission system, which allows users to theoretically control parts of the device's software and hardware an app can access or control and which it can't. However, it's not always easy to keep track of whether the permissions an app requests are genuinely relevant and necessary. This in turn can make it easier for malware authors to obtain unauthorized access to data on the device.

One-Time Permissions

With Android 11, there will be an option to grant some of the most sensitive permissions for a single use rather than giving approval for ongoing access. This includes access to location data, microphones and camera. (Source: android.com)

One aim of this change is to combat apps that carry out an advertised function, but also use data for less reputable purposes. Another benefit is that this should reduce the risk of legitimate apps being hijacked or remotely reprogrammed and then taking advantage of the permissions.

Camera Scam Tackled

There will also be a new auto-reset function that automatically removes these sensitive permissions if the user doesn't open the app for a set period of time. This should reduce the risk of rogue apps accessing data in the background. Some such apps intentionally remove or disguise their icon so that users are more likely to forget they are installed.

Another targeted change is that apps which want to open a camera function can only do so with the phone's built in camera app, rather than a third-party tool. That's to deal with a specific problem with apps using the third-party camera software to secretly take images and harvest their built-in location data to track a user's movements. (Source: bbc.co.uk)

What's Your Opinion?

Do you think these changes are a smart idea? Should Google "retrofit" them to older versions of Android if that's possible? Do you pay attention to permission requests and do you feel you can make an informed decision about them?

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