Facebook is making Android phones a little safer by sharing a helpful security tool with other software developers.
The social network is sharing its Android security tool, Conceal. The program encrypts data on Android phones, to prevent information leaks if users accidentally download malware.
Android devices are vulnerable to this kind of attack because data gets stored on MicroSD cards – flash memory you can pop in and out of your phone to get more storage. They’re nifty when you want to take a bunch of photos or download Bob Dylan’s entire discography to your device, but Android apps designed to be downloaded onto MicroSD cards (as oppose to the device’s internal memory) often have the ability to read anything on the MicroSD card, including other apps. That’s fine if you’re downloading something legit, but sign up for one off-brand Flappy Birds knockoff and all your data could be compromised.
That’s where Conceal comes in. Facebook explains how it works on GitHub: “Facebook currently uses Conceal to store image files on SD cards. Conceal helps Facebook protect user’s private data by encrypting data stored on SD cards while allowing users to move some of the data storage needs of the app to the expandable SD card.”
Facebook often makes it projects open source – there’s a whole directory of projects the teams have shared over the years – but this project could be especially useful to Android developers, since it helps make apps become harder to hack – and help make the Android ecosystem a safer place for users.