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Kernel-level app whitelisting support for Android devices

Mar 11, 2013 — by Rick Lehrbaum — 1240 views

McAfee has released new security software for Android-based embedded devices. Application Control for Android is claimed to be the only kernel-level security solution for protecting devices running embedded Android from installing or executing malicious apps.

With Android’s growing popularity in embedded applications, it has begun to draw the attention of new attacks, says McAfee.

“Previously, embedded developers had only a single option — Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux) — if they wanted enforceable security capabilities on their [Linux-based] embedded systems,” explains Rishi Bhargava vice president of product management, Embedded Security at McAfee. “Since the Android kernel is based on Linux, it was natural to extend our whitelisting solution to Android, in order to provide enforceable security directly within Android’s kernel space.”


McAfee’s Android embedded security components
(click image to enlarge)

Key features of Embedded Control for Android, as listed by the company, include:

  • Full device lockdown — only whitelisted and preinstalled applications are allowd to execute on the system; existing applications cannot be uninstalled by users or malware, and no unapproved applications may be installed
  • Event logging — all security events relating to the Android OS and apps are logged on the endpoint, and can be viewed locally through Android notifications and exported
  • Simplified whitelisting management — trusted administrators can install and uninstall applications in a controlled and secure manner
  • Local administration — password-protected administration via graphical and text-based interfaces

Bhargava says McAffee is “committed to making Android as secure and trusted as other common embedded software platforms.”

Hiroshi Komura, Associate SVP at NEC Infrontia adds, “There was already growing interest in Android in embedded systems. With McAfee extending its security to Android, this will only enhance the operating system for new product designs.” NEC Infrontia is expanding the use of Android in its products, according to Komura.

Further information regarding McAfee’s Embedded Control for Android security solution is available here.

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