Last week, Google has released the 4.4 (KitKat) version of their omni-popular Android OS. Between the improvements, some have noticed several security-related changes. So, how much more secure is Android 4.4?
When talking about Android 4.4 (KitKat) major security improvements, they can be divided into 2 categories:
1. Digital certificates
Android 4.4 will warn the user if a Certificate Authority (CA) is added to the device, making it easy to identify Man-in-the-Middle attacks inside local networks. At the same time, Google Certificate Pinning will make it harder for sophisticated attackers to intercept network traffic to and from Google services, by making sure only whitelisted SSL certificates can connect to certain Google domains.
2. OS hardening
SELinux is now running in enforcing mode, instead of permissive mode. This helps enforce permissions and thwart privilege escalation attacks, such as exploits that want to gain root access. Android 4.4 comes compiled with FORTIFY_SOURCE set at level 2, making buffer overflow exploits harder to implement.