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Android 7.0 Nougat has a few tricks up its sleeves against ransomware

By Wong Chung Wee - on 30 Mar 2017, 5:30pm

Android 7.0 Nougat has a few tricks up its sleeves against ransomware

(Image source: Google)

In a recent blog post by Jason Woloz, a senior program manager with Google’s Android Security team, who explained Android 7.0 Nougat’s built-in defenses against ransomware. According to Woloz, the chances of downloading a ransomware from Google Play store is extremely slim but Google didn’t want to take chances and had long built in protection in Android OS against such malware.

(Image source: Google)

One of the key components is Application Sandboxing, “a technology that forces each app to operate independently of others, provides another layer of defense.” In a sandbox environment, apps are required to “mutually consent” to data sharing, and this will inhibit “ransomware’s ability to access sensitive information like a contact list from another app.” The other level of protection is the Verify App system-level feature that scans applications before installation; it also constantly monitors them for PHAs (Potentially Harmful Applications).

With the release of Android 7.0 Nougat in August 2016, the security team added new protection features, as well as enhanced existing ones. A few of the features highlighted are as follows:-

  • Safety blinders: Apps operate in silos and can no longer see which other apps are active. So any ransomware won’t be able to detect what other apps are doing.
  • Even stronger locks: Any ransomware will be unable to change your PIN and lock you out from the device.
  • Whacking clickjacking: You are protected from being tricked into clicking permission dialogs that will permit ransomware from gaining admin privileges.

The blog entry also shared some important tips on keeping your device safe from malware.

  • Only download apps from a trustworthy source, such as Google Play.
  • Ensure Verify Apps is enabled.
  • Install security updates and always ensure your device is updated to the latest version to get the best security protection.
  • Back up your device.
  • Be cautious. Take a moment to read reviews and other information about apps before installing, to make sure you download the app you’re looking for.

But in the event ransomware strikes, there are some mitigating steps you can take, first of all, boot your device in safe mode, and uninstall the offending app. If that doesn’t work, you will have to factory reset your device so that it will be restored to its original state. This should be carried out as a last resort, and if you have backed up your device regularly, restoring it back to its original state shouldn’t take too much effort.

(Source: Google)

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