Android 10 Security and Privacy Updates

Every year around May Google host their global developer conference. This is the venue where developers, and consumers alike, hear about new features provided by Google services and OS’s.

In the Keynote they normally make most of the main announcements for new features and products, and in this blog I want to focus in on a few of the new security and privacy features coming in the next version of Android – Android Q (actual name to be announced nearer the release in the Autumn).

Android in all versions has had a number of improvements to security and privacy over the years and the embedded video below will show you a slide showing you this pedigree. However, the new features announced are:

  • User Privacy Controls:
    • Incognito Mode
    • Location Controls, including down to the App level
    • Family Controls
    • A lot of additional services related to AI that remain in the phone at all times – i.e. not sent to the Google cloud or to an external entity
    • Audio Capture on device, not sent to the cloud
    • User level controls on how long browsing and location history can be retained by Google
    • Privacy Permissions Changes
  • Security Improvements to the OS:
    • TLS 1.3 enabled by default
    • MAC Address randomisation enabled by default
    • Biometrics improvements
    • Jetpack Security Library
    • External Storage changes restricting access to other apps files
    • Camera Restrictions
    • Connectivity changes restricting apps from enabling/disabling WiFi.

I encourage you to view the following embedded video of the Keynote to get the actual announcements as I have found that a lot of the coverage in the press to be biased, and often misses the point that the presenters are making to force their own bias and opinions on their readership. I also don’t want to impose my own view on my readers as that may also be biased.

This presentation does not include an excessive amount of technical detail.

Android Q is presented at the 54 minute mark

There are a lot more changes coming to Android Q, which are too numerous to list here, and some of them are very technical. If you are interested, I can recommend a number of talks held at the conference that will provide more details. However, be prepared for some technical details in these talks as they are designed for developers:

You can also look at the following pages for a full list of all the recorded sessions from this years Google IO conference:

In addition you can also look at the following Google blogs at any time for additional information as it is announced, but again be aware that these can sometimes descend into technical detail:

Google does not have a good record on privacy, and my own Android phone is seriously locked down to limit what Google can and cannot record about me. You have to realise that Google’s whole business is based around what data you share and how they can use that data both to provide you with additional services and how they can use and market that data for other purposes and revenue generation. I personally welcome the changes Google are making to their services, but I will still keep my Android phone and Google services locked down.

If anyone is interested in how I lock down my own Android Phone and Google services, please let me know via the contact form and I will write a blog about it.

Headline photo provided by Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

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