Menu
Firefox OS to outdo Android on granular application permissions

Firefox OS to outdo Android on granular application permissions

Users will be able to revoke permissions previously granted to apps starting with Firefox OS 2.1

Future versions of the Firefox OS mobile platform will allow users to control application-specific permissions, a feature with both privacy and security benefits that's missing on Android.

Firefox OS 2.1, whose code is expected to be completed in November, will have a new option under its developer settings called Verbose App Permissions that will allow users to tweak permissions per application, according to Mozilla security engineer Frederik Braun.

"The typical list in the Settings app will then show you all the permissions an app has and allows you to set them to Allow, Prompt or Deny," Braun said Sunday in a blog post.

The feature will work for apps obtained from the Firefox Marketplace, but not for built-in apps that are shipped with Firefox OS phones by default.

Using the feature is not without risk, as some apps might stop functioning properly if they are not designed to cope with permission failures.

Unless the developer has created an error handler, "the app might be indefinitely stuck in a waiting state," Braun said.

Apple's iOS has had granular application permission control for years, but Android lacks this feature. That deficiency has drawn criticism from privacy and security experts.

Android users are asked to grant all permissions requested by an app at installation time. If they decline, the application is not installed. If they agree, there is no way to later revoke only specific permissions for that app.

Over time this has led to a situation where many apps ask for permissions they don't actually need in order to provide their primary functionality. In many cases that's because they bundle advertising frameworks that require their own, often extensive, list of permissions.

Furthermore, a June update to the Google Play app store has changed how permissions are shown to users and is now grouping them into categories, rather than listing them individually. For example users might see that an app requests SMS-related capabilities, but they would have to manually drill down to see whether those permissions refer to reading text messages or also sending them.

Google has called this a simplification to make permissions easier to understand, but some security experts believe the change makes it even harder for users to be properly informed about what they allow applications to do on their devices.

Google started to experiment with granular permission control in Android 4.3, which contained a hidden feature called App Ops that allowed users to turn off individual permissions granted to apps. However, the company later removed App Ops in Android 4.4.2, prompting advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation to call the inability to turn off app permissions "a Stygian hole in the Android security model."


Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Googlesecuritymobile securityAccess control and authenticationMozilla FoundationprivacyElectronic Frontier Foundation

Featured

Slideshows

Kiwi channel comes together for another round of After Hours

Kiwi channel comes together for another round of After Hours

The channel came together for another round of After Hours, with a bumper crowd of distributors, vendors and partners descending on The Jefferson in Auckland. Photos by Maria Stefina.​

Kiwi channel comes together for another round of After Hours
Consegna comes to town with AWS cloud offerings launch in Auckland

Consegna comes to town with AWS cloud offerings launch in Auckland

Emerging start-up Consegna has officially launched its cloud offerings in the New Zealand market, through a kick-off event held at Seafarers Building in Auckland.​ Founded in June 2016, the Auckland-based business is backed by AWS and supported by a global team of cloud specialists, leveraging global managed services partnerships with Rackspace locally.

Consegna comes to town with AWS cloud offerings launch in Auckland
Veritas honours top performing trans-Tasman partners

Veritas honours top performing trans-Tasman partners

Veritas honoured its top performing partners across the channel in Australia and New Zealand, recognising innovation and excellence on both sides of the Tasman. Revealed under the Vivid lights in Sydney, Intalock claimed the coveted Partner of the Year 2017 (Pacific) award, with Data#3 acknowledged for 12 months of strong growth across the market. Meanwhile, Datacom took home the New Zealand honours, with Global Storage and Insentra winning service provider and consulting awards respectively. Dicker Data was recognised as the standout distributor of the year, while Hitachi Data Systems claimed the alliance partner award. Photos by Bob Seary.

Veritas honours top performing trans-Tasman partners
Show Comments