Archive for May, 2011

Controlling security yourself on your Android device

May 26, 2011

One of the central features of Android is the concept of “permissions” — collections of access rights to data and services on your device. There are over 20 of them and they include things like access to the Internet, access to your contacts, access to your phone’s state, access to your location (GPS and cellular), etc. The developer declares what permissions the app requires in the APK (the thing you install) and when you install it, the permissions required are shown to you. You must accept them if you want to install the app. That’s all I’m going to say about permissions here … but you can read more about them here.

So, recent CyanogenMod 7 nightly builds include a permissions manager. It gives you the ability to revoke permissions of individual apps . This is causing a bit of a stir in the app world.

Now, along comes another app, LBE Privacy Guard (Android Market link and AppBrain link), which pops up a notification when an app requests ACCESS to a permission and lets you grant or deny it (yeah, sort of like UAC in Windows 7). Along with your allow or deny response, you can tell LBE whether you want it to remember your choice or ask each time. This app also comes white and black lists (which you can edit) and logs of the permissions requests. It’s pretty slick. I’ve installed it on my phone (LG G2x) and, so far, am happy with it. I’ve denied a few requests, just for fun, and haven’t seen app crap out because of it … yet. LBR is free but requires that you have a rooted device. You can get a little more information about it, along with some screenshots of it in use, at http://www.androidpolice.com/2011/05/26/new-app-lbe-privacy-guard-is-like-win…