Google introduced Android 8.0 last month. With many new teaks and features, the biggest changes that Google made in the new OS are meaningful improvements in security.
This new version of Android now has elevated security with the introduction of new device hardening features like Project Treble, System Alerts, device permission and Verified Boot. Thanks to these improvements because Android app developers can now stay assured for user-end device security and updates.
Android Oreo is based on a re-architected framework. Some big changes have been brought in which will doubtlessly impact users, Android app developers and device manufacturers.
As per the security experts in mobile industry, the Google’s introduction to Android – the Project Treble – will be proved as a major milestone for Google itself, device vendors and users.
By the Project Treble, Google has separated Android OS framework from vendor implementations which means that vendors will be able to push updates to new Android version without bothering about their own implementations which take more than enough time and thus the updates to the OS are delayed.
Almost all device makers implement device specific, lower-level software to their devices. Up until now, these were provided as the part of core OS which means upgrading the core OS would also require device makers to work on or rewrite or customize their own software. Now Google has separated the core software from the device-specific software which means device vendors can provide the update for the OS as soon as it arrives.
Compartmentalization of the OS by the Project Treble
A useful strategy implemented by Google in Android Oreo via the Project Treble is compartmentalization of the OS. This adds to a better management not only of components but also of vulnerabilities. The Google’s strategy behind it is to reduce Android’s attack surface.
By compartmentalization Google has intended to reduce the attack surface exposed to an app. It’s a smarter approach to stop vulnerability like Stagefright according to Google.
The old model allows hackers to achieve remote code execution via MediaServer when they are able to bypass SELinux with chained vulnerabilities. Some chances were made in Android Nougat where MediaServer functionalities split into several components like MediaExtractor and MediaDrmServer to prevernt format string risks.
With accelerating the compartmentalization of component, Google has also brought in bevy of new hardware abstraction layers for the audio, camera and DRM servers inside the media framework.
With reduction of user space attack surface, the focus by bad guys and researchers alike to finding vulnerabilities in the Android kernel has shifted. To deal with this shift, Android Oreo restricts access to the Kernel through seccomp (short for secure computing mode) filter. It’s a security feature called by filters system to the Kernel using a configurable policy. This shuts down unused system cells which in results reduce Kernel attacks.
Along with them, Oreo has better app management and controls, system alert, verified boot system and more secure protocols.
James Stewart is the technical writer of Mobilmindz that helps startups and enterprises in mobile technology and having a great experience in Travel app development, finance app development etc