We all know that Google’s Android ecosystem has more splits than a gymnast doing the splits. One of the biggest challenges for the search engine giant is the fragmentation of the Android platform, which is a major security headache. Despite Google’s efforts to improve security by coding almost all new features in memory-safe languages, users are taking their sweet time upgrading to Android 12 and newer. In the meantime, malware developers are managing to outsmart Android’s security measures with stolen platform certificates, leaving Google scrambling for solutions faster than a cook making breakfast during a Sunday brunch rush.
The thing is, the bad guys are getting smarter and are targeting these nifty little pieces of the software stack. They are looking for bugs and vulnerabilities that they can exploit over the air. And that’s a big problem for companies like Google, which have to work with a variety of OEM partners to address security vulnerabilities in a timely manner. Google has put some thought into this and is tackling this problem head-on. They are reinforcing the next layer of hardware, making it more difficult for cybercriminals to penetrate.
There are a few facts you may not know: All Android devices are powered by multicore processors called application processors, and they have sophisticated additional processors for image, video, security, and mobile communications processing. These collective technical marvels are called systems-on-chip or SoCs and are all controlled by firmware.
Google is now implementing a comprehensive strategy to improve Android’s security. First, compiler-based sanitizers are being deployed to provide robust protection against memory problems. These sanitizers act as security gatekeepers, catching potential problems before they can arise. In addition, Google is working with hardware partners to introduce advanced storage security features at the firmware level. This initiative includes a special mechanism that clears memory pages before an app can access them, reducing the likelihood of major memory errors. Google is also introducing clever tricks that make it harder for hackers to exploit unknown bugs.
Even though these measures slow down the system performance a bit, as if you were running a marathon in clown shoes, they do contribute significantly to the security of your device.