Category Archives: Android

Verimatrix launches enhanced Application Protection service for Android

Verimatrix announced general availability of version 2.2 of the Verimatrix Application Protection service for Android. The company’s latest Code Protection service for Android applications now supports the forthcoming Android ecosystem change that will mandate the use of Android Application Bundles (AABs) in the second half of 2021. A significant shift for developers, the upcoming AAB mandate creates a need for simple, reliable software security that prevents app attacks. In addition to traditional APKs, the Verimatrix … More

The post Verimatrix launches enhanced Application Protection service for Android appeared first on Help Net Security.

Finding the Location of Telegram Users

Security researcher Ahmed Hassan has shown that spoofing the Android’s “People Nearby” feature allows him to pinpoint the physical location of Telegram users:

Using readily available software and a rooted Android device, he’s able to spoof the location his device reports to Telegram servers. By using just three different locations and measuring the corresponding distance reported by People Nearby, he is able to pinpoint a user’s precise location.

[…]

A proof-of-concept video the researcher sent to Telegram showed how he could discern the address of a People Nearby user when he used a free GPS spoofing app to make his phone report just three different locations. He then drew a circle around each of the three locations with a radius of the distance reported by Telegram. The user’s precise location was where all three intersected.

[…]

Fixing the problem — or at least making it much harder to exploit it — wouldn’t be hard from a technical perspective. Rounding locations to the nearest mile and adding some random bits generally suffices. When the Tinder app had a similar disclosure vulnerability, developers used this kind of technique to fix it.

Don’t let your kids’ online classes be disrupted by cyberattacks!

Beware of cyberattacks happening through online classes!2020 will be remembered for a lot of sweeping changes and online classes are definitely on top of...

The post Don’t let your kids’ online classes be disrupted by cyberattacks! appeared first on Quick Heal Blog | Latest computer security news, tips, and advice.

Privacy-Preserving Smart Input with Gboard

Google Keyboard (a.k.a Gboard) has a critical mission to provide frictionless input on Android to empower users to communicate accurately and express themselves effortlessly. In order to accomplish this mission, Gboard must also protect users' private and sensitive data. Nothing users type is sent to Google servers. We recently launched privacy-preserving input by further advancing the latest federated technologies. In Android 11, Gboard also launched the contextual input suggestion experience by integrating on-device smarts into the user's daily communication in a privacy-preserving way.

Before Android 11, input suggestions were surfaced to users in several different places. In Android 11, Gboard launched a consistent and coordinated approach to access contextual input suggestions. For the first time, we've brought Smart Replies to the keyboard suggestions - powered by system intelligence running entirely on device. The smart input suggestions are rendered with a transparent layer on top of Gboard’s suggestion strip. This structure maintains the trust boundaries between the Android platform and Gboard, meaning sensitive personal content cannot be not accessed by Gboard. The suggestions are only sent to the app after the user taps to accept them.

For instance, when a user receives the message “Have a virtual coffee at 5pm?” in Whatsapp, on-device system intelligence predicts smart text and emoji replies “Sounds great!” and “👍”. Android system intelligence can see the incoming message but Gboard cannot. In Android 11, these Smart Replies are rendered by the Android platform on Gboard’s suggestion strip as a transparent layer. The suggested reply is generated by the system intelligence. When the user taps the suggestion, Android platform sends it to the input field directly. If the user doesn't tap the suggestion, gBoard and the app cannot see it. In this way, Android and Gboard surface the best of Google smarts whilst keeping users' data private: none of their data goes to any app, including the keyboard, unless they've tapped a suggestion.

Additionally, federated learning has enabled Gboard to train intelligent input models across many devices while keeping everything individual users type on their device. Today, the emoji is as common as punctuation - and have become the way for our users to express themselves in messaging. Our users want a way to have fresh and diversified emojis to better express their thoughts in messaging apps. Recently, we launched new on-device transformer models that are fine-tuned with federated learning in Gboard, to produce more contextual emoji predictions for English, Spanish and Portuguese.

Furthermore, following the success of privacy-preserving machine learning techniques, Gboard continues to leverage federated analytics to understand how Gboard is used from decentralized data. What we've learned from privacy-preserving analysis has let us make better decisions in our product.

When a user shares an emoji in a conversation, their phone keeps an ongoing count of which emojis are used. Later, when the phone is idle, plugged in, and connected to WiFi, Google’s federated analytics server invites the device to join a “round” of federated analytics data computation with hundreds of other participating phones. Every device involved in one round will compute the emoji share frequency, encrypt the result and send it a federated analytics server. Although the server can’t decrypt the data individually, the final tally of total emoji counts can be decrypted when combining encrypted data across devices. The aggregated data shows that the most popular emoji is 😂 in Whatsapp, 😭 in Roblox(gaming), and ✔ in Google Docs. Emoji 😷 moved up from 119th to 42nd in terms of frequency during COVID-19.

Gboard always has a strong commitment to Google’s Privacy Principles. Gboard strives to build privacy-preserving effortless input products for users to freely express their thoughts in 900+ languages while safeguarding user data. We will keep pushing the state of the art in smart input technologies on Android while safeguarding user data. Stay tuned!

Announcing the launch of the Android Partner Vulnerability Initiative

Posted by Kylie McRoberts, Program Manager and Alec Guertin, Security Engineer

Android graphic

Google’s Android Security & Privacy team has launched the Android Partner Vulnerability Initiative (APVI) to manage security issues specific to Android OEMs. The APVI is designed to drive remediation and provide transparency to users about issues we have discovered at Google that affect device models shipped by Android partners.

Another layer of security

Android incorporates industry-leading security features and every day we work with developers and device implementers to keep the Android platform and ecosystem safe. As part of that effort, we have a range of existing programs to enable security researchers to report security issues they have found. For example, you can report vulnerabilities in Android code via the Android Security Rewards Program (ASR), and vulnerabilities in popular third-party Android apps through the Google Play Security Rewards Program. Google releases ASR reports in Android Open Source Project (AOSP) based code through the Android Security Bulletins (ASB). These reports are issues that could impact all Android based devices. All Android partners must adopt ASB changes in order to declare the current month’s Android security patch level (SPL). But until recently, we didn’t have a clear way to process Google-discovered security issues outside of AOSP code that are unique to a much smaller set of specific Android OEMs. The APVI aims to close this gap, adding another layer of security for this targeted set of Android OEMs.

Improving Android OEM device security

The APVI covers Google-discovered issues that could potentially affect the security posture of an Android device or its user and is aligned to ISO/IEC 29147:2018 Information technology -- Security techniques -- Vulnerability disclosure recommendations. The initiative covers a wide range of issues impacting device code that is not serviced or maintained by Google (these are handled by the Android Security Bulletins).

Protecting Android users

The APVI has already processed a number of security issues, improving user protection against permissions bypasses, execution of code in the kernel, credential leaks and generation of unencrypted backups. Below are a few examples of what we’ve found, the impact and OEM remediation efforts.

Permission Bypass

In some versions of a third-party pre-installed over-the-air (OTA) update solution, a custom system service in the Android framework exposed privileged APIs directly to the OTA app. The service ran as the system user and did not require any permissions to access, instead checking for knowledge of a hardcoded password. The operations available varied across versions, but always allowed access to sensitive APIs, such as silently installing/uninstalling APKs, enabling/disabling apps and granting app permissions. This service appeared in the code base for many device builds across many OEMs, however it wasn’t always registered or exposed to apps. We’ve worked with impacted OEMs to make them aware of this security issue and provided guidance on how to remove or disable the affected code.

Credential Leak

A popular web browser pre-installed on many devices included a built-in password manager for sites visited by the user. The interface for this feature was exposed to WebView through JavaScript loaded in the context of each web page. A malicious site could have accessed the full contents of the user’s credential store. The credentials are encrypted at rest, but used a weak algorithm (DES) and a known, hardcoded key. This issue was reported to the developer and updates for the app were issued to users.

Overly-Privileged Apps

The checkUidPermission method in the PackageManagerService class was modified in the framework code for some devices to allow special permissions access to some apps. In one version, the method granted apps with the shared user ID com.google.uid.shared any permission they requested and apps signed with the same key as the com.google.android.gsf package any permission in their manifest. Another version of the modification allowed apps matching a list of package names and signatures to pass runtime permission checks even if the permission was not in their manifest. These issues have been fixed by the OEMs.

More information

Keep an eye out at https://bugs.chromium.org/p/apvi/ for future disclosures of Google-discovered security issues under this program, or find more information there on issues that have already been disclosed.

Acknowledgements: Scott Roberts, Shailesh Saini and Łukasz Siewierski, Android Security and Privacy Team

Lockscreen and Authentication Improvements in Android 11


[Cross-posted from the Android Developers Blog]
As phones become faster and smarter, they play increasingly important roles in our lives, functioning as our extended memory, our connection to the world at large, and often the primary interface for communication with friends, family, and wider communities. It is only natural that as part of this evolution, we’ve come to entrust our phones with our most private information, and in many ways treat them as extensions of our digital and physical identities.

This trust is paramount to the Android Security team. The team focuses on ensuring that Android devices respect the privacy and sensitivity of user data. A fundamental aspect of this work centers around the lockscreen, which acts as the proverbial front door to our devices. After all, the lockscreen ensures that only the intended user(s) of a device can access their private data.

This blog post outlines recent improvements around how users interact with the lockscreen on Android devices and more generally with authentication. In particular, we focus on two categories of authentication that present both immense potential as well as potentially immense risk if not designed well: biometrics and environmental modalities.

The tiered authentication model

Before getting into the details of lockscreen and authentication improvements, we first want to establish some context to help relate these improvements to each other. A good way to envision these changes is to fit them into the framework of the tiered authentication model, a conceptual classification of all the different authentication modalities on Android, how they relate to each other, and how they are constrained based on this classification.

The model itself is fairly simple, classifying authentication modalities into three buckets of decreasing levels of security and commensurately increasing constraints. The primary tier is the least constrained in the sense that users only need to re-enter a primary modality under certain situations (for example, after each boot or every 72 hours) in order to use its capability. The secondary and tertiary tiers are more constrained because they cannot be set up and used without having a primary modality enrolled first and they have more constraints further restricting their capabilities.

  1. Primary Tier - Knowledge Factor: The first tier consists of modalities that rely on knowledge factors, or something the user knows, for example, a PIN, pattern, or password. Good high-entropy knowledge factors, such as complex passwords that are hard to guess, offer the highest potential guarantee of identity.

    Knowledge factors are especially useful on Android becauses devices offer hardware backed brute-force protection with exponential-backoff, meaning Android devices prevent attackers from repeatedly guessing a PIN, pattern, or password by having hardware backed timeouts after every 5 incorrect attempts. Knowledge factors also confer additional benefits to all users that use them, such as File Based Encryption (FBE) and encrypted device backup.

  1. Secondary Tier - Biometrics: The second tier consists primarily of biometrics, or something the user is. Face or fingerprint based authentications are examples of secondary authentication modalities. Biometrics offer a more convenient but potentially less secure way of confirming your identity with a device.

We will delve into Android biometrics in the next section.

  1. The Tertiary Tier - Environmental: The last tier includes modalities that rely on something the user has. This could either be a physical token, such as with Smart Lock’s Trusted Devices where a phone can be unlocked when paired with a safelisted bluetooth device. Or it could be something inherent to the physical environment around the device, such as with Smart Lock’s Trusted Places where a phone can be unlocked when it is taken to a safelisted location.

    Improvements to tertiary authentication

    While both Trusted Places and Trusted Devices (and tertiary modalities in general) offer convenient ways to get access to the contents of your device, the fundamental issue they share is that they are ultimately a poor proxy for user identity. For example, an attacker could unlock a misplaced phone that uses Trusted Place simply by driving it past the user's home, or with moderate amount of effort, spoofing a GPS signal using off-the-shelf Software Defined Radios and some mild scripting. Similarly with Trusted Device, access to a safelisted bluetooth device also gives access to all data on the user’s phone.

    Because of this, a major improvement has been made to the environmental tier in Android 10. The Tertiary tier was switched from an active unlock mechanism into an extending unlock mechanism instead. In this new mode, a tertiary tier modality can no longer unlock a locked device. Instead, if the device is first unlocked using either a primary or secondary modality, it can continue to keep it in the unlocked state for a maximum of four hours.

A closer look at Android biometrics

Biometric implementations come with a wide variety of security characteristics, so we rely on the following two key factors to determine the security of a particular implementation:

  1. Architectural security: The resilience of a biometric pipeline against kernel or platform compromise. A pipeline is considered secure if kernel and platform compromises don’t grant the ability to either read raw biometric data, or inject synthetic data into the pipeline to influence an authentication decision.
  2. Spoofability: Is measured using the Spoof Acceptance Rate (SAR). SAR is a metric first introduced in Android P, and is intended to measure how resilient a biometric is against a dedicated attacker. Read more about SAR and its measurement in Measuring Biometric Unlock Security.

We use these two factors to classify biometrics into one of three different classes in decreasing order of security:

  • Class 3 (formerly Strong)
  • Class 2 (formerly Weak)
  • Class 1 (formerly Convenience)

Each class comes with an associated set of constraints that aim to balance their ease of use with the level of security they offer.

These constraints reflect the length of time before a biometric falls back to primary authentication, and the allowed application integration. For example, a Class 3 biometric enjoys the longest timeouts and offers all integration options for apps, while a Class 1 biometric has the shortest timeouts and no options for app integration. You can see a summary of the details in the table below, or the full details in the Android Android Compatibility Definition Document (CDD).

1 App integration means exposing an API to apps (e.g., via integration with BiometricPrompt/BiometricManager, androidx.biometric, or FIDO2 APIs)

2 Keystore integration means integrating Keystore, e.g., to release app auth-bound keys

Benefits and caveats

Biometrics provide convenience to users while maintaining a high level of security. Because users need to set up a primary authentication modality in order to use biometrics, it helps boost the lockscreen adoption (we see an average of 20% higher lockscreen adoption on devices that offer biometrics versus those that do not). This allows more users to benefit from the security features that the lockscreen provides: gates unauthorized access to sensitive user data and also confers other advantages of a primary authentication modality to these users, such as encrypted backups. Finally, biometrics also help reduce shoulder surfing attacks in which an attacker tries to reproduce a PIN, pattern, or password after observing a user entering the credential.

However, it is important that users understand the trade-offs involved with the use of biometrics. Primary among these is that no biometric system is foolproof. This is true not just on Android, but across all operating systems, form-factors, and technologies. For example, a face biometric implementation might be fooled by family members who resemble the user or a 3D mask of the user. A fingerprint biometric implementation could potentially be bypassed by a spoof made from latent fingerprints of the user. Although anti-spoofing or Presentation Attack Detection (PAD) technologies have been actively developed to mitigate such spoofing attacks, they are mitigations, not preventions.

One effort that Android has made to mitigate the potential risk of using biometrics is the lockdown mode introduced in Android P. Android users can use this feature to temporarily disable biometrics, together with Smart Lock (for example, Trusted Places and Trusted Devices) as well as notifications on the lock screen, when they feel the need to do so.

To use the lockdown mode, users first need to set up a primary authentication modality and then enable it in settings. The exact setting where the lockdown mode can be enabled varies by device models, and on a Google Pixel 4 device it is under Settings > Display > Lock screen > Show lockdown option. Once enabled, users can trigger the lockdown mode by holding the power button and then clicking the Lockdown icon on the power menu. A device in lockdown mode will return to the non-lockdown state after a primary authentication modality (such as a PIN, pattern, or password) is used to unlock the device.

BiometricPrompt - New APIs

In order for developers to benefit from the security guarantee provided by Android biometrics and to easily integrate biometric authentication into their apps to better protect sensitive user data, we introduced the BiometricPrompt APIs in Android P.

There are several benefits of using the BiometricPrompt APIs. Most importantly, these APIs allow app developers to target biometrics in a modality-agnostic way across different Android devices (that is, BiometricPrompt can be used as a single integration point for various biometric modalities supported on devices), while controlling the security guarantees that the authentication needs to provide (such as requiring Class 3 or Class 2 biometrics, with device credential as a fallback). In this way, it helps protect app data with a second layer of defenses (in addition to the lockscreen) and in turn respects the sensitivity of user data. Furthermore, BiometricPrompt provides a persistent UI with customization options for certain information (for example, title and description), offering a consistent user experience across biometric modalities and across Android devices.

As shown in the following architecture diagram, apps can integrate with biometrics on Android devices through either the framework API or the support library (that is, androidx.biometric for backward compatibility). One thing to note is that FingerprintManager is deprecated because developers are encouraged to migrate to BiometricPrompt for modality-agnostic authentications.

Improvements to BiometricPrompt

Android 10 introduced the BiometricManager class that developers can use to query the availability of biometric authentication and included fingerprint and face authentication integration for BiometricPrompt.

In Android 11, we introduce new features such as the BiometricManager.Authenticators interface which allows developers to specify the authentication types accepted by their apps, as well as additional support for auth-per-use keys within the BiometricPrompt class.

More details can be found in the Android 11 preview and Android Biometrics documentation. Read more about BiometricPrompt API usage in our blog post Using BiometricPrompt with CryptoObject: How and Why and our codelab Login with Biometrics on Android.

The First Smartphone for Free-Ranging Kids

Teaching Kids Internet Safety

The First Smartphone for Free-Ranging Kids

In an earlier article, we took a look at smartphone alternatives for free-ranging kids. Next up is the follow-on conversation … the time you give them their first, fully functional smartphone—and how to manage having it in your lives.

For children, learning to use a first smartphone is just like learning to ride a bike. And that’s just as true for you just as it is for them.
When a child learns to ride a bike, they take it in steps and stages. Maybe they start tooling around on little kick-bikes, a tricycle, scooter, or so on, just to get their feet under them so to speak. Next, it’s that first bike with training wheels, and then the big day that they come off (complete with a few scrapes and bruises too). They’re on two wheels, and a whole new world has opened up for them—one that you have to monitor and parent as you give them increasing freedom to roam—from the block, to the neighborhood, to your town—as they grow older and more responsible.

Your Child’s First Smartphone

Now, apply that same progression to the day your child finally gets their first smartphone. Plenty has led up to that moment: the times when they first tapped around your phone as a toddler, when as a preschooler they watched cartoons on a tablet, and maybe when they got a little older they had some other device, like a smartphone alternative designed just for kids.

Then comes along that first smartphone. And for parents it’s a game-changer, because it opens up yet another new world to them. The entire internet.

As you can see, your child doesn’t enter the world of smartphones entirely cold. They’ve already been on the internet and had the chance to experience selective slices of it under your supervision. But a smartphone—well, that’s another story entirely. A smartphone, out of the box, is a key to the broader internet. And just as you likely wouldn’t let your brand-new cyclist ride five miles to go and buy ice cream in town, there are plenty of places you wouldn’t let your new internet user go.

What follows here are a few words of advice that can ease your child into that new world, and ease you into it as well, so that you can all get the tremendous benefits of smartphone ownership with more confidence and care.

Start with the Basics: Smartphone Protection and Parental Controls

Whether you go with an Android device or iPhone, make sure you protect it. You can get mobile security for Android phones and mobile security for iPhones that’ll give you basic protection, like system scans, along with further protection that steers your child clear of suspicious websites and links. While I recommend protection for both types of phones, I strongly recommend it for Android phones given the differences in the way Apple and Android handle the code that runs their operating systems.

Apple is a “closed platform,” meaning that they do not release their source code to the public and partners. Meanwhile, Android is “open-source” code, which makes it easier for people to modify the code—hackers included. So while Apple phones have been historically less prone to attacks than Android phones, any device you own is inherently a potential target, simply because its connected to the internet. Protect it. (Also, for more on the differences between the security on Android phones and iPhones, check out this article from How-To Geek. It’s worth the quick read.)

Next up on your list is to establish a set of parental controls for the smartphone. You’ll absolutely want these as well. After all, you won’t be able to look over their shoulder while they’re using their phone like you could when they were little. Think of it as the next line of protection you can provide as a parent. A good set of parental controls will allow you to:

• Monitor their activity on their phone—what they’re doing and how much they’re doing it.
• Limit their screen time—allowing you to restrict access during school hours or select times at home.
• Block apps and filter websites—a must for keeping your children away from distractions or inappropriate content.

The great thing about parental controls is that they’re not set in stone. They give you the flexibility to parent as you need to parent, whether that’s putting the phone in a temporary time out to encourage time away from the screen or expanding access to more apps and sites as they get older and show you that they’re ready for the responsibility. Again, think about that first bike and the day you eventually allowed your child ride beyond the block. They’ll grow and become more independent on their phone too.

You need more than technology to keep kids safe on their smartphones.

Unlike those rotisserie ovens sold on late-night infomercials, a smartphone isn’t a “set it and forget it” proposition. Moreover, you won’t find the best monitoring, safety, and guidance software in an app store. That’s because it’s you.

As a parent, you already have a strong sense of what does and does not work for your household. Those rules, those expectations, need to make the jump from your household to your child’s smartphone and your child’s behavior on that smartphone. Obviously, there’s no software for that. Here’s the thing, though: they’ve established some of those behaviors already, simply by looking at you. Over the years, your child has seen your behavior with the phone. And let’s face it, none of us have been perfect here. We’ll sneak a peek at our phones while waiting for the food to show up to the table at a restaurant or cracked open our phones right as we’ve cracked open our eyes at the start of the day.

So, for starters, establishing the rules you want your child to follow may mean making some fresh rules for yourself and the entire household. For example, you may establish that the dinner table is a phone-free zone or set a time in the evening when phones are away before bedtime. (On a side note, research shows that even dim light from a smartphone can impact a person’s sleep patterns and their health overall, so you’ll want to consider that for your kids—and yourself!)

Whatever the rules you set in place end up being, make them as part of a conversation. Children of smartphone age will benefit from knowing not only what the rules are but why they’re important. Aside from wanting them to be safe and well, part of the goal here is to prepare them for the online world. Understanding “the why” is vital to that.

“The (Internet) Talk”

And that leads us to “The Internet Talk.”. In a recent McAfee blog on “What Security Means to Families,” we referred to the internet as a city, the biggest one there is. And if we think about letting our children head into town on their bikes, the following excerpt from that blog extends that idea to the internet:

For all its libraries, playgrounds, movie theaters, and shopping centers, there are dark alleys and derelict lots as well. Not to mention places that are simply age appropriate for some and not for others. Just as we give our children freer rein to explore their world on their own as they get older, the same holds true for the internet. There are some things we don’t want them to see and do.

There are multiple facets to “The Talk,” ranging anywhere from “stranger danger” to cyberbullying, and just general internet etiquette—not to mention the basics of keeping safe from things like malware, bad links, and scams. That’s a lot! Right? It sure is.

The challenge is this: while we’ve grown up with or grown into the internet over the course of our lives, the majority of children are amongst the first waves of children who were “born into” the internet. As parents, that means we’re learning much, if not all, of what we know about digital parenting from scratch.

The good news is that you’re far from alone. Indeed, a good portion of our blog is dedicated entirely to family safety. And with that, I’ve pulled out a few select articles below that can give you some information and inspiration for when it’s time to have “The Internet Talk.”

Stranger Danger
Keeping Your Kids Safe from Predators Online
Building Digital Literacy
Screen Time and Sleep Deprivation in Kids
Lessons Learned: A Decade of Digital Parenting
Social Influencers and Your Kids
Getting Kids to Care About Their Safety Online

And those are just a few for starters. We have plenty more, and a quick search will keep them coming. Meanwhile, know that once you have The Internet Talk, keep talking. Making sure your child is safe and happy on the internet is an ongoing process—and conversation, which will cover more in a moment.

Keeping tabs on their activity

One reason parents often cite for giving their child a smartphone is its location tracking capabilities that allow parents to see where their children are ranging about with a quick glance. And whether or not you choose to use such tracking features, that’s a decision you’ll have to make. However, consider your child’s privacy when you do. That’s not to say that you’re not in charge or that you shouldn’t track your child. Rather, it’s a reminder that your child is in fact getting older. Their sense of space and privacy is growing. Thus, if you choose to monitor their location, let them know you’re doing it. Be above the board with the intent that if you don’t hide anything from them, they’ll be less inclined to hide anything from you.

The same applies to parental controls software. Many of them will issue a report of app usage and time spent using the app, along with surfing habits too. Go ahead, monitor those early on and then adjust as them as it feels right to you. Let your child know that you’re doing it and why.

Another thing I’ve seen many of the parents I know do is share the credentials to any social media account their child sets up. Doing this openly lets your child take those first steps into social media (when you feel they’re ready) while giving you the opportunity to monitor, correct, and even cheer on certain behaviors you see. Granted, it’s not unusual for kids to work around this by setting up alternate accounts that they hide from their parents. With parental controls in place, you can mitigate some of that behavior, yet vigilance and openness on your part will be the greatest tool you have in that instance.

While you’re at it, go ahead and have conversations with your kid about what they’re doing online. Next time you’re in the car, ask what’s the latest app their friends are using. Take a peek at what games they’re playing. Download that game yourself, give it a try, and play it online with them if you can. This kind of engagement makes it normal to talk about the internet and what’s happening on it. Should the time come to discuss more serious topics or pressing matters (like a cyberbullying event, for instance), you have a conversational foundation already built.

The common denominator is you.

So, as we’ve discussed, technology is only part of the answer when managing that first smartphone in your child’s life. The other part is you. No solution works without your engagement, care, consistent application of rules, and clear expectations for behavior.

So, as you once looked on proudly as those training wheels came off your child’s first bike, you’ll want to consider doing the digital equivalent in those first months of that first smartphone. Keep your eyes and ears open as they use it. Have conversations about where their digital travels have taken them—the games they’re playing, the friends they’re chatting with. While you do, keep a sharp eye on their moods and feelings. Any changes could be a sign that you need to step in and catch them before they fall or pick them up right after they’ve fallen.
In all, your child’s first smartphone is a wonderful moment for any family, as it represents another big step in growing up. Celebrate it, have fun with it, and play your role in making sure your child gets the very best out of it.

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The post The First Smartphone for Free-Ranging Kids appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Pixel 4a is the first device to go through ioXt at launch



Trust is very important when it comes to the relationship between a user and their smartphone. While phone functionality and design can enhance the user experience, security is fundamental and foundational to our relationship with our phones.There are multiple ways to build trust around the security capabilities that a device provides and we continue to invest in verifiable ways to do just that.

Pixel 4a ioXt certification

Today we are happy to announce that the Pixel 4/4 XL and the newly launched Pixel 4a are the first Android smartphones to go through ioXt certification against the Android Profile.

The Internet of Secure Things Alliance (ioXt) manages a security compliance assessment program for connected devices. ioXt has over 200 members across various industries, including Google, Amazon, Facebook, T-Mobile, Comcast, Zigbee Alliance, Z-Wave Alliance, Legrand, Resideo, Schneider Electric, and many others. With so many companies involved, ioXt covers a wide range of device types, including smart lighting, smart speakers, webcams, and Android smartphones.

The core focus of ioXt is “to set security standards that bring security, upgradability and transparency to the market and directly into the hands of consumers.” This is accomplished by assessing devices against a baseline set of requirements and relying on publicly available evidence. The goal of ioXt’s approach is to enable users, enterprises, regulators, and other stakeholders to understand the security in connected products to drive better awareness towards how these products are protecting the security and privacy of users.

ioXt’s baseline security requirements are tailored for product classes, and the ioXt Android Profile enables smartphone manufacturers to differentiate security capabilities, including biometric authentication strength, security update frequency, length of security support lifetime commitment, vulnerability disclosure program quality, and preloaded app risk minimization.

We believe that using a widely known industry consortium standard for Pixel certification provides increased trust in the security claims we make to our users. NCC Group has published an audit report that can be downloaded here. The report documents the evaluation of Pixel 4/4 XL and Pixel 4a against the ioXt Android Profile.

Security by Default is one of the most important criteria used in the ioXt Android profile. Security by Default rates devices by cumulatively scoring the risk for all preloads on a particular device. For this particular measurement, we worked with a team of university experts from the University of Cambridge, University of Strathclyde, and Johannes Kepler University in Linz to create a formula that considers the risk of platform signed apps, pregranted permissions on preloaded apps, and apps communicating using cleartext traffic.

Screenshot of the presentation of the Android Device Security Database at the Android Security Symposium 2020

In partnership with those teams, Google created Uraniborg, an open source tool that collects necessary attributes from the device and runs it through this formula to come up with a raw score. NCC Group leveraged Uraniborg to conduct the assessment for the ioXt Security by Default category.

As part of our ongoing certification efforts, we look forward to submitting future Pixel smartphones through the ioXt standard, and we encourage the Android device ecosystem to participate in similar transparency efforts for their devices.

Acknowledgements: This post leveraged contributions from Sudhi Herle, Billy Lau and Sam Schumacher