Android P to Finally Stop Apps From Tracking Network Activity: Report

 
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Android P to Finally Stop Apps From Tracking Network Activity: Report

Highlights

  • New changes coming to Android's SELinux rules
  • Change likely to land in a future Android P Developer Preview
  • Most apps will still have unrestricted access until 2019

Android P was announced as the Android Oreo successor a couple of months ago. Now it has now been spotted that this upcoming Android version will finally patch a nasty security flaw. According to a new report, Android apps will no longer be able to network activity on your smartphone. Currently, apps can monitor a user's network to detect when other apps on your handset are connecting to the internet. Also, this can happen without a user's permission or knowledge as well.

With Android P, Google is said to be introducing native safeguards that will stop apps from accessing network activity files that store details about other apps that connect to the Internet, the servers they connect to, and more. As noticed by XDA Developers, the latest changes are arriving to Android's SELinux rules for apps targeting API level 28 running on Android P. The report says that a new commit has appeared in the Android Open Source Project to "start the process of locking down proc/net." Additionally, /proc/net contains a bunch of output from the kernel related to network activity. It says that currently there is no restriction on apps accessing /proc/net, which means they can read (especially from the TCP and UDP files) to parse your smartphone's network activity.

Notably, the SELinux changes only enable designated VPN apps to access some networking information, as per the code. According to the report, Android apps will not have to target API level 28 until 2019, which essentially means that the flaw could still be accessed for the next few months.

Amid growing criticism of Silicon Valley's data collection efforts, popular children's apps available on the Google Play Store were found to be violating child privacy laws last month. But, Google could be making amends by developing a fix to patch the privacy flaw that will finally be able to prevent Android apps from tracking network activity.

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Further reading: Android P, Android, Google
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