When it comes to Android, there have been many security vulnerabilities and some eerie third-party companies sending private information to Chinese servers. Security issues on Android are nothing new and continue to happen, which has resulted in a Tor Android prototype being developed to counter the security-lacking Android devices.
Tor Android Prototype Dubbed “Mission Improbable”
Mike Perry, one of the many developers at Tor, has made an Android Tor prototype he dubbed “Mission Improbable.” Tor as a company is looking to branch out into the market of smartphones, even though Tor as a browser can be already downloaded to Android devices. The prototype uses Copperhead OS for a base but also has Orwall integrated with it. Orwall is the Android firewall and Tor gets the traffic through that firewall.
As it stands right now, only Pixel and Google Nexus devices work with this prototype due to the fact that these are the only devices that can be modified. The Nexus and Pixel devices have the ability to be modified through the fact they can install their own keys. These devices also have the filesystem security from a verified boot, which other devices are lacking. While this sounds very pleasing to people looking for a more secure platform, Perry said this is only the beginning for Tor.
Tor plans on showing the world that a smartphone can function without the vulnerabilities commonly seen on Android time and time again. Tor wants to create a smartphone that allows users choice and freedom, and also wants the smartphone to work for those who need high-security devices. Perry said that the Android Tor prototype is not something that your average Android user could really follow at this point, because you have to know all about Linux in order to install the prototype on the Android devices. For most people, they might either know nothing about Linux or know just a little, and with the Android Tor prototype that is not enough to be able to install and use this product.
If you do think your Linux skills are good enough to attempt to install this prototype on your Pixel or Nexus, you can download the files for “Mission Improbable” at GitHub. Perry said that it will still be a while before the actual product is ready to use and hits the market, as this is still an early developmental part of the project even though files have already been released. If you are not that familiar with Linux, then you probably should wait until the final product is completed or wait until Tor does end up coming out with a smartphone.
Right now, there is no timeline on when the Tor Android product would be for sale or when Tor plans on introducing the world to a Tor smartphone. Tor is just opening the door to show people that yes you can have a smartphone that is secure and not vulnerable to all of these all-too-common issues that keep hitting Android. How it all will work and whether any vulnerabilities hit Tor’s prototype remain to be seen, but it is a step in the right direction for privacy advocates.