Good News: Mobile Devices Now Competing To Be Much More Secure Against Prying Eyes

from the very-good-to-see dept

While the more cynical folks out there have insisted that the tech industry is a happy partner with the intelligence community, the reality has been quite different. If anything, in the past many companies were simply... complacent about the situation, not realizing how important these issues were. That's problematic, but the Snowden revelations have woken up those firms and enabled the privacy and security gurus who work there to finally get the message across that they absolutely need to do more to protect the privacy and security of their users. That's why you see things like Apple's new local encryption by default on iOS8, meaning that even if law enforcement or the intelligence community comes knocking, Apple can't get much of your data off of your device.
“Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data,” Apple said on its Web site. “So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”
Within hours, it was reported that the next update to Android would also have the same default encryption.
“For over three years Android has offered encryption, and keys are not stored off of the device, so they cannot be shared with law enforcement,” said company spokeswoman Niki Christoff. “As part of our next Android release, encryption will be enabled by default out of the box, so you won't even have to think about turning it on.”
Of course, you can expect to see the DOJ pushing for new laws to somehow block this or get backdoor access. It may create a future fight worth watching. In the meantime, though, it's great to see tech companies actually competing on how well they can protect the privacy of their users' data from the prying eyes of law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
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Filed Under: android, competition, devices, encryption, ios8, privacy, security
Companies: apple, google


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2014 @ 1:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: It's security theater

    Apparently these and the thousands of similar articles have escaped your attention:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/katevinton/2014/06/24/mobile-malware-is-on-the-rise-mcafee-rep ort-reveals/

    http://www.computerworld.com/article/2475964/mobile-security/98--of-mobile-malware-targe ts-android-platform.html

    http://www.darkreading.com/study-15-million-devices-infected-with-mobile-mal ware/d/d-id/1315477

    http://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/mobile-malware-infects-millions-lte-spu rs-growth/

    But even those aren't the full story. For one thing, estimates of malware infection rates require effective detection of malware infection, and current methodologies are quite clearly very poor, leading to severe underestimates. Moreover, and I invite you to review the historical growth curve of botnets in this regard, sensible extrapolation of observed infection rates indicates continued acceleration -- all the countermeasures notwithstanding. And of course none of this is going to get any better given that app stores are loaded with malware, very little of which has been or is going to reviewed by anyone -- and some of which is pretty nasty stuff.

    Bottom line: the mobile device ecosystem is a shithole and it's getting steadily worse despite token attempts to improve it -- like the one we're discussing here. The fundamental problem -- actually, the fundamental insoluble problem -- is that the entire technology space, from devices to software to firmware to infrastructure, was designed to be usable and cheap. Security wasn't a primary design concern and now it's doomed to an endless series of retrofits -- which ARE failing and which WILL fail. This entire process is like trying to randomly slap band-aids on a victim who's been shot 37 times. It's a token gesture, not an effective treatment.

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