Android contains code written by the NSA, but there’s nothing lawless, immoral, corrupt or dishonourable about it. NSA’s code contributions are publicly accessible, which makes it extremely hard, if not impossible, to insert a surreptitious vulnerability.
To say the deluge of leaks provoked by Edward Snowdon is scandalous is an understatement. Not a week goes by without an embarrassing disclosure, and the National Security Agency is at the centre of it all.
The NSA is supposedly prying into the electronic communications of everyone ranging from foreign nationals, to citizens of allied countries, as well as Americans. Furthermore, major technology companies including Google are supposedly co-operating with the National Security Agency, on a massive scale.
In this current climate of confusion, the last thing we need is more fear, uncertainty and doubt. The NSA has been contributing to the source code of Android! Does that mean the government agency is now reading my texts, listening in on my calls, monitoring my web usage and looking at my photo’s? No, not at all. While the NSA is more than capable of doing all of those things, I doubt very much if the agency is doing it through a backdoor it furtively planted into Android.
Well, now I suppose some of you are thinking, well if its not looking to plant backdoors, what is the NSA’s business with Android? Ironically, the National Security Agency is actually working together with Android developers to make the operating system more secure.
The government agency is a longtime contributor to the Linux OS and its impeccable work is the basis of Security-Enhanced Linux, a feature that provides users and administrators increased control over who gets to access what’s in the operating system, and it is proving to be a huge success.
Back in January 2012, the NSA launched a Security-Enhanced version of Android, a project aimed at finding and eliminating security loopholes in its mobile operating system. According to BusinessWeek, some of the code the NSA wrote has already been merged into the latest version of Android that runs on devices like the HTC One, Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Mega.
The NSA is interested in securing Android and Linux operating systems because they are both open source, flexible and best of all, free, therefore, perfect for use in government systems. Android has already been used for a number of American defense-related projects and recently Samsung devices running KNOX, a suite of enterprise security features, has been approved for use by the Pentagon. It makes perfect sense for the NSA to help strengthen and secure a public operating system that will run on devices which access critical and essential government systems.
The idea that the NSA would add backdoors or vulnerabilities to its submissions, when all the source code is publicly accessible and is combed through by thousands of people, is simply ridiculous. It is just as comical to think that the best way to gain access to any operating system is to publicly announce that you are contributing to the OS, and make the corrupt code accessible for all to see.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s no doubt about it; massive surveillance programs do exist, and no device or communication channel is truly secure. The NSA is probably doing everything it can to penetrate Android, Windows, iOS, Linux and every other operating system you can think of, but just not like this!