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RIM: Android Runtime Apps Won’t Bring Security Risks

February 11, 2012

Ever since Canadian Gadget Maker Research in Motion (RIM) announced that they will be making Android apps usable on the PlayBook tablet, a lot of people have received mixed reactions. While many have been excited to hear about this new development, there are some who are scared that this will mean vulnerable security measures for Android. At the current state, Google’s Android OS is already the most targeted of malware due to its open source and large user base nature. With RIM’s decision to make Android apps compatible with the PlayBook through a software feature Runtime, RIM said that security risks will not come along with the apps.

During RIM’s Devcon Europe event, Tim Neil (the brand’s application platform and tools product manager) said:

“For the Android side of things we’ve been making sure that we’re sandboxing the actual Android Runtime in our same security model that we use for everything else.
“We’re making sure, very sure, that that Android Runtime is secure as possible on the platform.”

According to Neil, 65% of existing Android apps no longer require any porting for the PlayBook. Instead, the Android application package file (APK) just needs to be repackaged and signed to be compatible with the BlackBerry App World.

But even though majority of existing apps don’t need any changes, there are still a few restrictions. One of these restrictions is with apps that use either voice over internet protocol (VoIP), session initiation protocol (SIP), or Bluetooth. Apps that have no user interface are also not compatible with Runtime.

“Our goal is to try to get as close as possible [to 100 per cent], from a compatibility standpoint, with Android Gingerbread,” Neil said.

Considering the fact that more than half of Android devices are still using Gingerbread, it is only understandable why RIM is attempting to be compatible with that version. Unfortunately, RIM has not yet made any announcement or commitment if they will be supporting the latest Android OS, Ice Cream Sandwich. More information will have to be anticipated from RIM on this.