Category: Privacy

The Privacy and Security Risks of Consumer Genomics Kits | Avast

Gill Langston August 21, 2018 Garry Kasparov, Privacy

Consumer genomics kits are all the rage. On Black Friday and Cyber Monday last year, industry leader 23&Me sold 1.5 million. I can understand the appeal. For one, it’s fun to learn about where your ancestors came from and perhaps even pick up a surprising fact about your family heritage to share at cocktail parties. You might even discover a long-lost family member or two. More seriously, people want to find out which diseases they are more susceptible to and steps they can take to mitigate their risk. Setting aside concerns about the accuracy and reliability of these tests, we are still left with a major potential pitfall: the privacy and security threats of amassing large quantities of biometric data.

Google tracking, a fax attack, and a vote of “un-confidence” | Avast

Avast Security News Team August 17, 2018 #cybercrime, Privacy, Security News

Google may still be tracking you…

Adding to the growing mistrust consumers have about what tech companies do with the data they collect, we learned this week from an Associated Press investigation that Google still tracks and stores your whereabouts even if you turn off “location history” in your privacy settings. It turns out that disabling location history, on Android devices and iPhones, only removes your location from the Google Maps Timeline feature — which shows you where you’ve been in Google’s data — but some Google apps still store your time-stamped location data, in part so they can better target ads based on where you’ve been. The company argues that it makes clear to users how to disable this setting and delete location history. So, what can you do to prevent Google from saving these location markers? First, disable a setting called “Web and App Activity,” which stores a variety of information from Google apps and websites to your Google account. Then, delete your location data in your Google account at myactivity.google.com.

Bank Mode protects you and your cash | Avast

Gill Langston July 30, 2018 #browser, Privacy, Tips & Advice

You know full well that cybercriminals want your money, and we know full well that you already know that. If we’ve done a good job within these blog posts, we’ve already conditioned you to always take a moment to assess your security before doing any online banking. Cybercriminals perch themselves on public Wi-Fi networks, looking for someone sloppy enough to spill their bank details over an open connection. Malware on your PC or device could have the ability to log all your keystrokes, capturing your login credentials for use in the near future. Your online banking info is the holy grail to these cybercrooks, and they won’t stop until they get it … unless you have Bank Mode.

Fake apps on Google, data breaches around the globe | Avast

Avast Security News Team July 13, 2018 Privacy, Security News

Fake apps on Google Play open the door for BankBot Anubis

Mobile users in Turkey, beware. IBM cybersecurity researchers announced this week that they’ve discovered at least ten fake apps on the Google Play Store that seem to be a unified campaign to spread the banking Trojan BankBot Anubis, which is designed to steal bank login credentials, payment card numbers, and e-wallet info.   

Create a cyber protection policy for your small business using our free template | Avast Business

Avast Business Team July 13, 2018 Business Security, Privacy

Small businesses (SMBs) make up 99.7% of all US businesses, and they’re under increasing attacks from hackers and malicious software. As such it’s more important than ever to get the right protection by having a comprehensive security policy in place.

Five Things You Can Do to Manage Your Privacy Now

Michelle Dennedy January 5, 2018 cybersecurity, data privacy day, IoT, personal data protection, Privacy, S&TO, security

The Internet of Things – the increasingly connected world in which we live – is rapidly expanding. We love our convenient and fun ​devices – ​like​ ​personal assistants, wearables, speakers, cameras, TVs, cars, home alarm systems, toys and appliances. But it’s important to understand that connected devices rely on information about us – such as […]

Double Stuffed Security in Android Oreo

Android Developers December 20, 2017 Android, Android Developer, Android O, AndroidO, Develop, Featured, Privacy, security

Posted by Gian G Spicuzza, Android Security team

Android Oreo is stuffed full of security enhancements. Over the past few months,
we’ve covered how we’ve improved the security of the Android platform and its
applications: from making
it safer to get apps
, dropping insecure
network protocols
, providing more user
control over identifiers
, hardening
the kernel
, making
Android easier to update
, all the way to doubling
the Android Security Rewards payouts
. Now that Oreo is out the door, let’s
take a look at all the goodness inside.

Expanding support for hardware security

Android already supports Verified Boot,
which is designed to prevent devices from booting up with software that has been
tampered with. In Android Oreo, we added a reference implementation for Verified
Boot running with Project
Treble
, called Android Verified Boot 2.0 (AVB). AVB has a couple of cool
features to make updates easier and more secure, such as a common footer format
and rollback protection. Rollback protection is designed to prevent a device to
boot if downgraded to an older OS version, which could be vulnerable to an
exploit. To do this, the devices save the OS version using either special
hardware or by having the Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) sign the data.
Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL come with this protection and we recommend all device
manufacturers add this feature to their new devices.

Oreo also includes the new OEM
Lock Hardware Abstraction Layer
(HAL) that gives device manufacturers more
flexibility for how they protect whether a device is locked, unlocked, or
unlockable. For example, the new Pixel phones use this HAL to pass commands to
the bootloader. The bootloader analyzes these commands the next time the device
boots and determines if changes to the locks, which are securely stored in
Replay Protected Memory Block (RPMB), should happen. If your device is stolen,
these safeguards are designed to prevent your device from being reset and to
keep your data secure. This new HAL even supports moving the lock state to
dedicated hardware.

Speaking of hardware, we’ve invested support in tamper-resistant hardware, such
as the security
module
found in every Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. This physical chip prevents
many software and hardware attacks and is also resistant to physical penetration
attacks. The security module prevents deriving the encryption key without the
device’s passcode and limits the rate of unlock attempts, which makes many
attacks infeasible due to time restrictions.

While the new Pixel devices have the special security module, all new GMS devices shipping with Android Oreo
are required to implement key
attestation
. This provides a mechanism for strongly attesting
IDs
such as hardware identifiers.

We added new features for enterprise-managed devices as well. In work profiles,
encryption keys are now ejected from RAM when the profile is off or when your
company’s admin remotely locks the profile. This helps secure enterprise data at
rest.

Platform hardening and process isolation

As part of Project
Treble
, the Android framework was re-architected to make updates easier and
less costly for device manufacturers. This separation of platform and
vendor-code was also designed to improve security. Following the principle of
least privilege
, these HALs run in their own
sandbox
and only have access to the drivers and permissions that are
absolutely necessary.

Continuing with the media
stack hardening
in Android Nougat, most direct hardware access has been
removed from the media frameworks in Oreo resulting in better isolation.
Furthermore, we’ve enabled Control Flow Integrity (CFI) across all media
components. Most vulnerabilities today are exploited by subverting the normal
control flow of an application, instead changing them to perform arbitrary
malicious activities with all the privileges of the exploited application. CFI
is a robust security mechanism that disallows arbitrary changes to the original
control flow graph of a compiled binary, making it significantly harder to
perform such attacks.

In addition to these architecture changes and CFI, Android Oreo comes with a
feast of other tasty platform security enhancements:

  • Seccomp
    filtering
    : makes some unused syscalls unavailable to apps so that
    they can’t be exploited by potentially harmful apps.
  • Hardened
    usercopy
    : A recent survey
    of security bugs
    on Android
    revealed that invalid or missing bounds checking was seen in approximately 45%
    of kernel vulnerabilities. We’ve backported a bounds checking feature to Android
    kernels 3.18 and above, which makes exploitation harder while also helping
    developers spot issues and fix bugs in their code.
  • Privileged Access Never (PAN) emulation: Also backported to
    3.18 kernels and above, this feature prohibits the kernel from accessing user
    space directly and ensures developers utilize the hardened functions to access
    user space.
  • Kernel Address Space Layout Randomization (KASLR):
    Although Android has supported userspace Address Space Layout Randomization
    (ASLR) for years, we’ve backported KASLR to help mitigate vulnerabilities on
    Android kernels 4.4 and newer. KASLR works by randomizing the location where
    kernel code is loaded on each boot, making code reuse attacks probabilistic and
    therefore more difficult to carry out, especially remotely.

App security and device identifier changes

Android
Instant Apps
run in a restricted sandbox which limits permissions and
capabilities such as reading the on-device app list or transmitting cleartext
traffic. Although introduced during the Android Oreo release, Instant Apps
supports devices running Android Lollipop and
later.

In order to handle untrusted content more safely, we’ve isolated
WebView
by splitting the rendering engine into a separate process and
running it within an isolated sandbox that restricts its resources. WebView also
supports Safe Browsing to protect
against potentially dangerous sites.

Lastly, we’ve made significant
changes to device identifiers
to give users more control, including:

  • Moving the static Android ID and Widevine values to an
    app-specific value, which helps limit the use of device-scoped non-resettable
    IDs.
  • In accordance with IETF RFC 7844
    anonymity profile, net.hostname is now empty and the DHCP client no
    longer sends a hostname.
  • For apps that require a device ID, we’ve built a Build.getSerial()
    API
    and protected it behind a permission.
  • Alongside security researchers1, we designed a robust MAC address
    randomization for Wi-Fi scan traffic in various chipsets firmware.

Android Oreo brings in all of these improvements, and many more. As always, we
appreciate feedback and welcome suggestions for how we can improve Android.
Contact us at security@android.com.

_____________________________________________________________________

1: Glenn Wilkinson and team at Sensepost, UK, Célestin Matte, Mathieu Cunche:
University of Lyon, INSA-Lyon, CITI Lab, Inria Privatics, Mathy Vanhoef, KU
Leuven

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