backtop


Print 28 comment(s) - last by MGSsancho.. on Jun 28 at 3:50 AM


Google is working to be transparent about why it remotely removes apps from its phones in the rare cases it does.
Kills a questionable app that appears to have been a security application, carefully explains actions

Google, like Apple, has implemented a system on its Android smartphone operating system that can remotely delete apps when necessary.  The news of this "kill switch" leaked well over a year ago, but Google has hardly used it. 

This week Google announced that it had recently killed some apps remotely, perhaps for the first time.  The company explains in a blog post:

Every now and then, we remove applications from Android Market due to violations of our Android Market Developer Distribution Agreement or Content Policy. In cases where users may have installed a malicious application that poses a threat, we’ve also developed technologies and processes to remotely remove an installed application from devices. If an application is removed in this way, users will receive a notification on their phone.

Apparently, the apps it removed were the work of a security researcher and not truly dangerous.  The apps were distributed on the Android market and purposefully misrepresented themselves, but were not designed to be truly dangerous -- they gained no "resources beyond permission.INTERNET."

The researcher eventually removed that apps from the market (likely when his study was complete) and Google executed a remote kill on the instances of the two apps that still remained on users' phones.

Google elaborates:

The remote application removal feature is one of many security controls Android possesses to help protect users from malicious applications. In case of an emergency, a dangerous application could be removed from active circulation in a rapid and scalable manner to prevent further exposure to users. While we hope to not have to use it, we know that we have the capability to take swift action on behalf of users’ safety when needed.
This remote removal functionality — along with Android’s unique Application Sandbox and Permissions model, Over-The-Air update system, centralized Market, developer registrations, user-submitted ratings, and application flagging — provides a powerful security advantage to help protect Android users in our open environment.

While Google has the right to manage its own business, it's certainly refreshing to see that it goes the extra mile in communicating and being so transparent about explaining why its reasoning behind executing what might otherwise be a controversial feature, when it does. 

Much of the criticism Apple's iPhone app rejections generated was due to the fact that they were poorly explained.  It looks like Google is intent on maintaining a high level of transparency, something which its customers will surely appreciate.



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By twidlerofthumbs on 6/25/2010 6:00:48 PM , Rating: 2
The point of the remote kill on mobile devices is many fold but the underlying reason is much more serious than on most peoples desktop computers.

Yes it can be used to thwart copyright violations, yes it can be used to quell a rogue application destroying your phone, and yes it can help Google not get sued.

But we are dealing with a telecommunications device that the majority of Americans use as their exclusive phone. I am not talking about androids there but cell phones in general.
As such due to certain federal mandates on emergency communication protocols the countries cellular networks must be able to continue to operate in a reasonable manner at all times.

Now say there is an application that doesn’t destroy the phone but spreads using modern smart phone’s features and eventually attack the very network that the phones run on.
I don’t know about you but if I were going to plan an attack on a country with any magnitude. One of the first things I would want to do from a strategic standpoint is disable or at the very least cripple communications.

It’s not like remote kill systems are not all around us, and have been for tens of years, in one form or another. It is something that we will have to live with.

In this age of people expecting companies and governments to take responsibility for their individual stupidity this should be something welcomed with open arms, when used responsibly, be it Google, apple or whoever implements it.

I simply give Google kudos for being so straight forward with it’s purpose and usage and thank them for being responsible enough to watch the ignorant majority's backs.




"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher

Related Articles













botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki