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Android Security Flaws Discovered: What You Can Do

Dan earned his CompTIA (CIOS) certification in 2010 and worked in the computer repair/networking industry for several years.

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Samsung announced in early 2021, several apps preinstalled on their devices had noteworthy security vulnerabilities. Although software patches have been released, the holes could allow cybercriminals administrative access, permitting changes to various settings as well as reading and writing of personal files — including but not limited to SMS/MMS text messaging-based data and contacts.

As is the case with most security flaws discovered in software, manufacturers attempt to address the issues and provide solutions. However, security should not be limited to the whims of software makers.

Think in a Broader Context

Since physical access to computers can be harder to gain than via computer hacking, cybercriminals will turn to software programs designed to infiltrate and control computers remotely. The acquired access is used for various purposes.

The software used to gain unauthorized access can come preinstalled and hackers can discover vulnerabilities in it for exploitation. However, the tech-savvy perpetrators can also develop third-party apps, typically offered as free downloads which, on the surface, provide appealing features. When these apps are installed, malicious software is simultaneously installed unseen which hackers use to attack from across the internet — a lucrative prospect.

Software Vetting

Part of the solution for mitigating unauthorized access is to not merely install an antivirus suite. Careful vetting of software should be done, in addition to uninstalling unneeded software.

As implied, software preinstalled on a device is not inherently secure just because it's manufacturer-installed. Therefore, any software not being used should be uninstalled. It will remove security holes from the device that may be present in the program or app.

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Disabling unused features or apps (programs) in any computing device for improving security is part of a concept known as hardening. Moreover, when downloading third-party apps, the source of the download should be carefully considered. It’s recommended to download apps only from sources that are known and trusted.

Although app stores are able to root out malicious software, the efforts aren’t perfect. In a best-practice scenario, it’s recommended to test downloaded software on a system isolated from mission-critical networks, where no personal files or private information is stored/entered.

Moving Forward

IT security experts continually assert complacency and user error is the primary security hole. A time could exist when business flourishes and there are few if any problems with security breaches. Then, one day, when computers or networks come online, it’s discovered a major breach has occurred — deleted files, ransomware attack, or various other issues. Obtaining a broad, general knowledge of computer security, taken with proactive steps, is the approach recommended by the security industry.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Dan Martino

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