Enhanced Security Measures From Ice Cream Sandwich

October 27, 2011

Being able to securely store data is probably the most crucial aspect of having a successful operating system. Besides being able to navigate more easily through your Android device’s varied interfaces or taking better pictures, you also want to worry less about viruses and other malware and other such unfortunate occurrences that can happen. And let’s not forget if your smartphone or tablet  is ever stolen or misplaced – what can you do to protect yourself? You’ll be glad to know then, that Android 4.0 comes with some significant enhancement in this area.

Perhaps the most popular security measure of Ice Cream Sandwich is the Face Unlock feature. As the name suggestions, it’s a way of unlocking your Android 4.0 device through facial recognition technology. The first question about such a method that probably pops up is, “Can it be fooled by a photograph?” The technology isn’t exactly new and judging by how it has been implemented on other platforms, it seems to be effective even against such exploits. A more likely concern would probably be if the program doesn’t recognize your face due to poor lighting or some cosmetic alteration.

In that case, you can still unlock your Android 4.0 device by entering your password or PIN code. ICS allows you to encrypt the whole thing. That may seem inconvenient to those who make a habit of forgetting their passwords as the only way to gain access then is to restore everything to factory settings. At least you don’t need to do a remote wipe which boils down to the same thing. On your part, it would be a good idea to backup important data on cloud-based storage services.

For the less front-facing and more technical improvements, ICS has integrated the computer security technique known as address space layout randomization (ASLR). Simply put, this process randomly assigns the address spaces of an application’s data making it harder for hackers to execute a memory-related attack. This is all part of the new way Android 4.0 manages memory. In terms of an app’s authentication requirements, ICS includes a new application programming interface that can more safely install and store certificates. This is especially advantageous for developers as they will be able to design more secure apps from the start.

Finally, with Android 4.0 you will have the option to make certain apps inactive or at the very least restrict or disable their data transfer. Some devices come pre-installed with software that you don’t really need (aka bloatware) and some of them run in the background, use up much needed memory, and may be sending or receiving critical info without your knowledge, like your location for example. Short of rooting your phone you really won’t be able to uninstall them as these apps are on the system partition. But, with these new security feature in ICS, you’ll have more control as you’ll be able to prevent such apps from launching, sending or receiving data, or even displaying an icon.

Via Cnet

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