Google already has vast troves of data on everyone in the world. A couple of our favourite Android apps also dole out our location data to advertisers from time to time. But Google’s grip on its Android users may be much worse than we know or have imagined. A new report shows that Google can remotely reset passcodes for 74% of Android phones allowing law enforcement agencies to remotely view content on the said devices.

Of course, this ceding of access can only be done if Google had been ordered to do so by a court.

According to the document prepared by the New York District Attorney’s office, “Forensic examiners can bypass passcodes on some of those devices using a variety of forensic techniques. For some other types of Android devices, Google can reset the passcodes when served with a search warrant and an order instructing them to assist law enforcement to extract data from the device.”

The paper examined the impact of the new full disk encryption the tech companies are baking into their new operating systems. According to the study, Google is unable to bypass passcodes (even when served with a warrant) in devices running Android 5.0 or higher because of the full disk encryption. With older operating systems however, it’s open season.

According The Next Web, quoting figures from Google’s Dashboard, 74% of Android users run versions of Android older than Android 5.0. However, the encryption is not turned on by default, which means the percentage of users whose phones can be bypassed may be higher.

The reason the encryption is not turned on by default is because it hinders performance. User can manually enable it in their device settings.

You may be surprised at the percentage of Android users using older versions of Android. The percentage is high because Android updates are often left to OEMs’ approval and customizations. OEMs have been known to take their sweet time in pushing out the updates which means users often get updates late, if at all. This is unlike Apple which pushes out updates to all its devices without another layer of filtering by OEMs.

In Apple devices, things aren’t as bad. Apple is not able to bypass security on most of its devices because most are running the iOS 8 or later which have full disk encryption. The feature is also turned on by default.

Photo Credit:YanivG via Compfight cc

Read this next
More From TC

My Life In Tech is putting human faces to some of the innovative startups, investments and policy formations driving the technology sector across Africa. A tragic 1980 novel by Sidney Sheldon, Rage of Angels, is all it took for Odunoluwa Longe to decide she wanted to pursue a career in law. The novel’s stunning protagonist, […]

Another Friday, another edition of the TechCabal Quiz. Last week, we asked what type of tech boss you are and we got all your responses. Today, we want to find out how well you read us this week. As always, let us know how you get on and share this among your friends. Have a […]

Battlefield, Business, Funding
6th December 2019

Ten startups have been announced as winners of the Seedstars Summit Africa 2019. Held in Johannesburg, South Africa, the summit is a competition for startups from different countries in Africa. First emerging through pitch contests and mentoring in over 20 African countries, the participating startups got their chance to pitch to an audience that included […]

TechCabal is a Big Cabal Media brand

Copyright © 2019
All rights reserved

Privacy & Terms