Despite Google’s constant efforts, malicious software is still on the go with Android, and it comes from a variety of sources. Sometimes it happens almost to the will of users who install any application that they have downloaded from suspicious site. They also do not read permission requests, so the virus can easily block their smartphone by showing persistent ads. Fortunately, the Android 7.1 Nougat has a pretty interesting panic mode that will help in such situations.
Google introduced this new functionality without much publicity. To be honest, it’s not surprising. As far as security is concerned, it is good practice not to show your cards against rivals, i.e. cybercriminals. Google did not brag about its idea of panic so that criminals would not be too quick to look for loopholes in the new security mechanism.
Panic mode in Android 7.1 Nougat turns on after a quick 4-times press the back button.
At the moment of fast pressing, the interval between consecutive pushes has to be shorter than 300 milliseconds. After something like that, Android detects that the user has started panicking (for example, because of a malicious application that can not be shut down) and immediately switches to the startup screen. This allows the user to safely uninstall the worm. This is a very good mechanism, but it will not heal the entire smartphone market running operating system from Google. New functionality was implemented only in Android 7.1 Nougat version, which is installed only at 0.9% of devices. Before this system will be installed on more smartphones, cybercriminals will find another way to infect our phones and tablets.
Is open source software conducive to security?
The newly introduced panic mode was not described anywhere on the project pages or release note. It was discovered by people from XDA Developers, who simply analysed the new code. It was not complicated, because the entire implementation takes less than 60 lines of code, and comments are also included. Everything is cool, but the same code can be analysed by hackers who want to bypass the new security. In the case of a system with close code, they would not have such a possibility. Fortunately, there are also hackers who are referred to as white hats. They, for a variety, inform developers about the discovered vulnerabilities and help to fix it. Google appreciates such people and solidly rewards them for it.
Source: XDA Developers