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24 June 2011, 15:02

Security-enhanced Android controls app access rights

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Whisper Systems, the maker of Android security extensions, has now added fine-grained permissions for applications to its free WhisperCore device security software. It allows users to be more selective than ever in deciding what access rights an application should have to specific resources, granting or denying access to data.

Previously when a user installed an application, the only choice offered was to grant all requested access rights or cancel the installation. Now, with WhisperCore 0.5, users can control the individual access rights. Unlike some alternative firmware offerings such as CyanogenMod, WhisperCore doesn't block the application when access is revoked. It instead creates a private resource with a privacy-protected identifier – generated specifically for that application – leaving it working, albeit with false data. The advantage over CyanogenMod is that it avoids the problem of applications crashing when they are unexpectedly blocked from accessing a resource.

WhisperCore also encrypts the entire system and incorporates a firewall. The solution requires that the device is unlocked so that it can be re-flashed. It is supported on the Nexus One and Nexus S with installers for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. Support for other smartphones will follow – hopefully soon, because WhisperCore for Android provides exactly the functions that security and privacy-conscious users want.


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