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How Mobility Edge Helps Protect from Cyber Attacks

How Mobility Edge Helps Protect from Cyber Attacks

Every new cyberattack is an important reminder why keeping your Android operating system (OS) up to date is so important. Operating system updates improve the end user experience and increase the security. An operating system like Android is probably the most complex piece of software you will ever use.

Each new Android OS contains critical and significant improvements along with important security and privacy enhancements. These are updates that go far beyond bug fixes that are provided each month. Android also introduces your devices and data and perform a variety of advanced functions.

During the software development, the OS goes through strict quality checks until Android is satisfied with the products functionality. These rounds of rigorous testing, however, don’t always guarantee a flawless OS. In order to fix these reported errors, Android makes patches and releases them as software updates.

When a company ignores or refuses such updates, it can have serious consequences to the equipment because cybercriminals will often seek to exploit these lapses in OS/program updates to infect systems with dangerous malware.  According to Gartner, “Operating Systems are one of the most likely vectors for attack, and the availability of security patches is a critical requirement.” 1

 

Why Android Operating Systems (OS) Updates are Important

There are many reasons of why it is important to update you Android OS.  Here are just a few.

Android OS updates are about revisions.  Android OS updates provide critical revisions.  These can include repairing security holes that have been discovered, adding new features to your device, adding new support for new hardware, removing outdated features and other improvements. By updating your OS, you also help ensure you are compatible with the newest and most innovative device and program features. Keeping your systems current means that your devices and systems are safer.

Android OS updates help patch security flaws. Security flaws and vulnerabilities are a hacker’s best friend.  Security flaws are holes or weaknesses that are found in the OS or software program.  Cybercriminals will look to introduce malware by exploiting these weaknesses.

Malware can affect your devices without you having done anything wrong.  It can be introduced for example via a rogue website, compromised device, playing infected media, or means. Malware permits the attacker to gain access, control, collect data, and/or add encryption that only the hacker has keys to.   Once malware infiltrates your network, it can and does spread very quickly across networks and devices.  A cyberattack can seem like something that happens to the other company, until it becomes reality.

A patch is a small piece of software that is issued whenever a security flaw is uncovered. Security patches are often available before hackers can get a chance to exploit a vulnerability and use it to infiltrate your systems.

One unpatched system or careless user can cause devasting consequences to your entire network of systems. OS updates cover the holes that keep the hackers out.

A patch is a small piece of software that a company issues whenever a security flaw is uncovered. Just like the name implies, the patch covers the hole, keeping hackers from further exploiting the flaw. These cyber security tools are sent out to quickly fix bugs that may be occurring and create a safer computer environment. They are often built in to regularly scheduled updates. That’s why it’s very important to keep all of your software and handheld devices up-to-date.

Android OS updates help protect your data. Don’t underestimate the value of the access, credentials, and data used by your devices. Anything of value to you or others, is valuable to cybercriminals. Information and access can be held for ransom, and/or used to commit crimes on behalf of your company/individuals, or sell it the dark web that enables others to commit crimes.  Hackers can used use information from one system to get access to another. If it is a ransomware attack, your data can be encrypted, in which the hacker demands a payment in exchange for returning access  and/or data. OS updates help keep such hackers out.

In just the first half of 2020 municipal governments, universities and private businesses have spent more than $144 million responding to the biggest ransomware attacks on everything from rebuilding networks and restoring backups to paying the hackers ransom.  Here are just a few: 2

  • ISS World (Recovery and mitigation costs: $75 Million To $112.4 Million)-Feb. 17 ransomware attack forced Denmark-based facilities management firm ISS World to switch off its networks and leave hundreds of thousands of employees without access to their systems or email.
  • Cognizant (Recovery and mitigation costs: $50 Million To $70 Million)-Cognizant publicly admitted April 18 that its network was infected with Maze ransomware, which ended up encrypting servers and taking out some of the company’s work from home capabilities.
  • Redcar And Cleveland Council (England) (Recovery and mitigation costs: 13.6 Million To $22.2 Million)-A ransomware cyberattacks on Feb. 8 forced Redcar and Cleveland council staff off council computers, tablets and mobile devices for three weeks, forcing them to instead rely on “pen and paper.” In the weeks following the attack, the council was forced to build a new server and website and mobilize a temporary call center.
  • Travelex (Recovery and mitigation costs: $2.3 Million)-A New Year’s Eve ransomware attack crippled Travelex, forcing the world’s largest chain of money-exchange shops to take its internal networks, consumer-facing websites and app offline for several weeks to stop the virus. The company begun reinstating some of its operations in January and revived its consumer business in the second half of February.
  • University of California San Francisco (UCSF) (Recovery and mitigation costs: 1.14 Million)-Malware launched on June 1 encrypted a limited number of servers within UCSF’s School of Medicine, making them temporarily inaccessible, UCSF disclosed on June 26. The malware is believed to have encrypted the UCSF servers opportunistically, with no particular area being targeted, and the attackers obtained some data as proof of their action to use in their demand for a ransom payment.
  • Communications & Power Industries (CPI) (Recovery and mitigation costs: $500,000)-A “domain admin” with the highest level of privileges on the network of California-based Communications & Power Industries (CPI) clicked on a malicious link in mid-January while logged in, triggering file-encrypted malware. Because the thousands of computers on the network were on the same, unsigned domain, the ransomware quickly spread to every CPI office, including its on-site backups.

Android OS updates help avoid lost productivity.  A reality of cyberattacks is lost productivity from system downtime. Cyberattacks lead to losses in the cost of updating and patching the OS and cost of delayed projects and unproductive workers.

Android OS updates protect your team and business partners. If your device gets a virus, it can easily be spread throughout the network and business partners. As a business you have the responsibility to safeguard the information your customers entrust to your systems. That is why you need to keep your OS updated.

Android OS updates provide you the latest features.  In addition to the security patches, Android OS updates provide you the new features and improve existing features. 

 

A Closer Look at What’s in an Android OS Release

Honeywell works to make your transition from one version easy. We encourage our customers to migrate from one version to the next to take advantage of the advanced capabilities that Android introduces and new security features which can help with such things as regulatory compliance.

New Android versions always contain significant improvements along with important security and privacy enhancements.  These are items that go far beyond the fixes that patches provide.  They also introduce expansions and restrictions to API’s which permit third-part apps to interact with your device and perform a variety of advanced functions.   Let’s take a look at just a few enhancements that came with Android 9 and Android 10 OS releases.

Android 9 OS. When Android 9 was released, it included some of these important security features which aim to keep up with attackers: 3

  • Support for newer Wi-Fi protocol that improves indoor location pinpointing.
  • More advanced system for image processing for developers to utilize
  • More intelligent system for data management that lets apps prefetch data only when network conditions are optimal.
  • Provides apps with expanded access to Google’s neural networks system for advanced types of machine learning.
  • Creates more effective system for autofill features introduced in Version 8
  • Provides substantial improvements to underlying systems that allow apps to operate.
  • Apps on Android 9 should use less memory and be more power efficient and faster-loading.

And then there is the all the system level privacy and security updates which included in Android 9…

  • More controlled access to your devices camera, mic and sensors
  • Better encryption for backup data
  • More privacy with network connections
  • More protection from unsecure traffic
  • User facing warnings that help you avoid using apps that ignore the latest systems for interacting with your data.

Android 10 OS. The Android 10 focused on improving privacy and security with over 50 privacy and security updates. For example, 4, 5

  • New Privacy section under Settings with important controls like Web & App Activity and Ad Settings in one place.
  • External storage access is restricted to an app’s own files and media meaning that an app can only access files in the specific app directory.
  • Users now have detailed control over the location data they share with apps. You can grant location access to an app at all times, turn it off completely, or give access only while the app is in use.
  • Apps can no longer launch activities in the background without user interaction. This is intended to minimize screen interruptions for users and provide more control over what happens on their device.
  • Restrict apps from knowing the IMEI or Serial number of your device which keeps device identifiers from being misused for illegal activities like IMEI spoofing.
  • Create a QR code for your Wi-Fi network or scan a QR code to join a Wi-Fi network from the device's Wi-Fi settings.
  • Developers can now use the BiometricPrompt API to specify the biometric authenticator strength required by their app to unlock or access sensitive parts of the app.

There are substantial changes that go deeper into the Android 10 OS. For example, 6

  • Web encryption for TLS 1.3 will be standard by default on all connections that support it. This update ends support for old, weak crypto­graphic algorithms and makes process of encrypting data in transit more secure, faster, and more efficient.
  • A new encryption requirement called "file-based encryption" replaces the old scheme, known as "full-disk encryption." Accessibility services and alarms can start working as soon as you power up. File-based encryption is more secure for devices used by multiple people or with a "work profile"—which separates professional and personal apps and data—because the device doesn't need to be decrypted to boot to the lock screen. It can decrypt only the data relevant to a specific, signed-in user, after the device has had a chance to start.

Important. It is important to understand that new security features that come with a new OS version are not backportable/patchable to prior OS versions.  Not even when the prior OS versions is still supported by Google.

 

Honeywell Mobility Edge Makes It Easy to Upgrade Android OS

Mobility Edge is the first and only platform to guarantee each Android version through Android 11, and is committed to working towards Android 13 compatibility.

Honeywell has made it easy for our enterprise customers to migrate applications from one Android version to another. Honeywell has built the mobile device platform Mobility Edge. 

Mobility Edge™ is based upon extensive research gathered from Honeywell’s global community of customers from a range of technologies. Honeywell recognized that businesses wanted a unified hardware and software platform for all form factors – one that allowed for rapid deployments, robust performance, and adaptability to changing needs.

We completely innovated our approach to meeting the challenges of supporting a mobile workforce, and Mobility Edge was the answer. This unified, dynamic platform for mobile computing is designed to:

  • Accelerate Deployments. Validate once. Deploy everywhere. Faster, easier, and at lower cost. Enabling versatile out-of-the-box capabilities and a rapid provisioning suite, Mobility Edge expedites development, certification, setup, and training involving multiple form factors at once.
  • Optimize Business Performance. Boost productivity and drive efficiency. Powerful, embedded tools across the platform drive faster data capture and secure, enhanced worker communications. The unified, intuitive experience facilitates user adoption and helps employee’s complete vital tasks.
  • Extend Lifecycle. Forward compatible. Future-proof. Mobility Edge reduces TCO and minimizes headaches with an enterprise-wide approach to maintenance releases, and hardware designed to support ongoing upgrades to the operating system through Android 13, and extended support 5 years beyond that.
  • Strengthen Security. Mobility Edge provides a unified, dynamic hardware-and-software platform with built in security, and the best available future security made possible by unbroken Android version continuity, and forward compatibility.

Established service and support data went into the development of Mobility Edge. We optimized our mobility devices based on the work patterns of many customers and actual users to deliver more realistic and precise engineering requirements. Using historical insights from service data, we addressed common failure points during the design phase, making our Mobility Edge products more resilient and stable. We also mined our detailed support data to further improve and refine product quality. By providing a unified hardware and software platform with an agile approach, we can bring you more secure and reliable solutions across your operation and we can do it continuously evolving to meet new threats, threat actors.

Mobility Edge offers an integrated, repeatable, scalable approach to workflow automation that is based on a common hardware and software platform. Designed for Android™, it delivers a unified platform that all software solutions are based on. Businesses can develop and deploy faster while reducing development costs.

The Mobility Edge unified platform is composed of:

  • Common Hardware (System On Module, or SOM), which includes the CPU, memory, WWAN (in selected devices), WLAN, Bluetooth®, near-field communication (NFC), and Zigbee (in selected devices).
  • Common Operating System Image with support for multiple generations of Android, guaranteed through Android 11, committed to working towards Android 13 compatibility.
  • Common Software Ecosystem that includes not just Honeywell software, but also Honeywell-approved ISVs (independent software vendors).

Together these common elements minimize your company’s cost, effort, and risk. They accelerate your time-to-value so you can start deploying devices into the hands of your mobile workers much faster. And they maximize your ROI by extending the lifecycle of your devices.  And provide highest security, latest features/tech.

Honeywell Mobility Edge is a leader in Android version support, providing the best available security to our customers. Honeywell is deeply committed to the longevity and quality of the Mobility Edge platform. The following products are built on the Mobility Edge platform: Honeywell™ CT40, CT40XP, CT60, CT60XP, CN80, CK65, RT10A, and Thor™ VM1A, and VM3A.

Contact a Honeywell Solutions Expert today! Call 1-800-934-3163

 

1 Source: Avoid Ransomware Disasters With a Better Backup and Recovery Strategy, Michael Hoeck, Published 22 July 2019.

The 11 Biggest Ransomware Attacks Of 2020 (So Far)

3 Why Android upgrades absolutely matter

4 Google Android 10 Review

5 Android 10 rewind: Throwback look at privacy features before Android 11 lands

6 The Android 10 Privacy and Security Upgrades You Should Know About

 

Barry J. Ewell
SPS BLOG EDITOR

Barry J. Ewell is a Senior Content Marketing Communications Specialist for Honeywell Safety and Productivity Solutions. He has been researching and writing on supply chain topics since 1991.