July 29, 2013, 8:07 AM — A couple of years ago, I implemented a technology that makes iPhones, iPads and Android smartphones and tablets more secure by giving us access control, encryption, passwords and remote-wipe capability. Since then, at a time when smartphone usage at my company was booming, we haven't had any data security breaches related to smartphones and tablets. Although some of those devices have been lost or stolen, such occurrences have never led to a breach, thanks to the ability to remotely wipe those devices. I've loved the peace of mind that has given me.
But now my peace of mind has been shattered.
As the use of mobile devices has grown at my company, our smartphones and tablets of choice have been Android-based phones. They are so much cheaper than Apple products, it has been hard to justify spending a lot more for iPads and iPhones. And our security record with the Android devices has been so good that there was no reason to second-guess that decision.
Lately, the Android platform has come under attack. Serious vulnerabilities have been found in the Android operating system that can compromise devices and the data on them, regardless of any security software that may be running. For example, Google recently released a security update to fix a vulnerability in the Android security model that can be used to plant Trojan horse malware in regular applications, which an attacker can use to break into the device and steal data. Known as the "master key" vulnerability, this particular security hole has been lurking around undetected for the last four years. Google's fix isn't permanent, though. And now a second master key vulnerability has been discovered.