Android currently accounts for 74.3% of the global mobile OS share. Introduced to the consumer market in 2007, after Google acquired its parent company two years before, the Android operating system received and still receives immense support from several smartphone manufacturers which catalyzed its rise to beat the Symbian OS which was reigning at the time.
Over the years, the Android operating system has distanced itself from other operating systems, leading the chart by miles. As reported by the popular German statistics website, Statistica, 80% of the smartphones sold worldwide in 2017 had the Android operating system installed on them and market predictions estimate that by 2022. Android will maintain its position at the top of the mobile OS list with 86% smartphone coverage by then.
Possible Cause of Security Flaws in the Android OS
The Android Operating System is open-source software, which many believe is the cause of the numerous security inherent in the OS. Its counterpart, the iOS, boasts of stellar security features, which can be seen in how the company scrutinizes every application before it is on the AppStore.
On the Google Play Store, however, the requirements are lenient and virtually any developer can upload their application there. Studies have shown that the ability of users to sideload applications, thereby eliminating any oversight pertaining to app security is the major cause of the vulnerabilities found in Android applications.
There are many vulnerabilities associated with the Android operating system but outlined below are the two major classifications.
● Client-side Vulnerabilities: This deals majorly with the insecurities embedded in inter-process communication. This allows attackers to be able to remotely intercept data being transferred on an insecure application.
● Server-side Vulnerabilities: The vulnerabilities inherent in server components stem from the application code written and the measures implemented in protecting these applications.
Vulnerabilities Peculiar to the Android OS
On a broader scope, some of these vulnerabilities, in no particular order of severity or importance are:
● Jailbreak Ability: Android OS affords the user to bypass binary protection and encryption policies on a device. Although this gives the user the freedom to explore and manipulate some core functionalities, it also gives room for malicious code to gain access to the device and alter the normal working operation of the software.
● Inadequate Protection for Network Data: Oftentimes, application developers fail to encrypt network data, ignoring the fact that it is pertinent for every form of communication to be secured. This is particularly with respect to connections to web pages on the Internet.
● Android RCE Bug: Although fixed in an update released by Google in May, the bug, tagged CVE-2020-0103 allows an attacker to remotely take over a user’s device under the camouflage of executing a privileged process.
Staying safe from Android Vulnerabilities
Given the fact that there are several other bugs and vulnerabilities associated with Android OS and its apps, below are some ways by which users and developers can keep their devices safe:
● Use a VPN: Regardless of the security protocols every application is assumed to have embedded in them, it is advised that you ensure your mobile devices are secured with a VPN so you can have an additional layer of encryption that secures the data you send to and receive from the Internet.
● Follow Proper Security Protocols: For application developers and publishers, it is important to understand that security is a crucial part of an application and there should be no compromise in this regard. By convention, applications should be validating SSL/TLS certificates and dropping any connection whose certificate cannot be verified.
● Regularly Install Updates: Google developers are constantly discovering and fixing bugs that are detected in the software. A way to stay secure is to install these updates as soon as they are released so your device can be up to date with the latest security measures.