Security has always been the matter of heated debates between staunch adherents and implacable adversaries of both Android and iOS.
With the advent of Google’s new phone, Pixel, the heat hasn’t subsided. On the contrary, it rose to a whole new level. Right now, Pixel is under close scrutiny of active web surfers and online security gurus as per security and safety aspects of the gadget.
Pixel, besides its latest Android operating system – Android 7.1 Nougat – and deep software integration of Google’s services (Google Assistant, Google Photos and Daydream), is equipped with adequate branded protection, too.
The search giant addresses security issues on a regular basis and provides monthly security updates that patch discovered bugs. Actually, Google introduced an entire device ecosystem at one sweep: there is one target for immediate OS updates and security refreshes.
After his talk at O’Reilly Security Conference in New York City, Adrian Ludwig, director of security at Android, claimed that “Safety Net,” the original built-in security solution, scans 400 million gadgets per day. Potentially, this product can check more than 6 billion applications daily. Ludwig claimed that less than 1 percent of Android smartphones are affected by Potentially Harmful Applications nowadays.
Still, according to Ludwig, there’s a lot to be done to improve update and security patching cycles.
Dangers lurking on the Web
Now, let’s leave the upper spheres and descend to ordinary users’ problems. What if their phone gets into this 1 percent? How do they remain protected online? That’s the most burning question for every web surfer.
We are to bear in mind the reason why a smartphone is so attractive for hackers. Nowadays, 80 percent of our life is literally spent online (including banking, online purchasing, classified data transfers, sensitive private communication, etc.), and a lot of vital information is stored in mobile devices or transmitted via the web.
Gadgets are small, but they can cause big problems if security issues aren’t addressed properly. Devices don’t belong to you exclusively anymore; with the advent of Internet, your private data is accessible to almost everyone.
You must be aware that the very moment you log into a public Wi-Fi spot, “digital pirates” start hunting after your sensitive personal information, like bank account data, credit card passwords, names, addresses, social media accounts, and so on. In particular, this threat concerns new gadgets that are tested by community and criminals simultaneously and that may reveal dangerous breaches in their protection systems.
Apps for protection
IT security experts highly recommend some applications for installation on a new smartphone in order to protect it from attacks of criminals. They are as follows:
- Secure private messaging (e.g. Tor Messenger, Signal),
- Safe storage of numerous passwords (e.g. 1Password),
- Data encryption and securing your connection (VPN services for Android),
- Secure encrypted emailing (e.g. My Secure Mail),
- Blocking different apps in order to prevent unauthorized access (e.g. Applock), etc.
If such applications are free of charge, they must be downloaded from a third-party application store (an app store that isn’t Google Play) and installed onto your phone. Unfortunately, the users don’t care much about taking the risk of installing a pirated, non-secure application to their phones.
Such apps can present an easy way for offenders to get into your device and your private data, thus enabling them to block your accounts, to steal money or “authorized-only’’ information, to blackmail you, etc. (To illustrate some not-so-far-fetched possibilities, see the episodes from “Black Mirror”, a British TV series about unanticipated societal consequences of new technologies.)
Complex security solutions
Is there any way out? Sure. First, you must resort to registered, official and trusted services only (preferably paid for, as the chance of getting malware is significantly lower then). It’s a matter of your digital hygiene, after all, and you digital well-being depends on it just like the health of your body depends on your routine hygiene procedures. Do not let any virus – real or virtual – get inside!
Second, it’s good to employ a Virtual Private Network or Proxy server to create additional protection for your online communication channels. (Metaphorically speaking, it is your virtual digital ‘’contraceptive.’’)
With a VPN, you can enhance your anonymity and improve the integrity of communication channels, secure your private conversations by their encryption, and keep your online activity private and secure by deploying an invisible protective shield over your Internet traffic.
About the Author: Margarita Vitiuk, a digital citizen, is interested in informational technologies, IT developments and forecasting. Currently COO at Privatoria s.r.o., she facilitates people to web-surf securely and to be protected online.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor, and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire, Inc.