I am an android and open-source fan boy, but…
Anybody who knows me knows I am a huge fan of free and open-source software. I have been an Android fan ever since I heard of it, knowing that an open-source alternative to Apple Inc’s iPhone operating system would be a great boon to the free software movement and to freedom in general. I mean, the promise was so great: an open operating system; transparent development; code available to be inspected and audited by the community; no more wondering what the software was doing behind the scenes. I knew if I ever got a smart phone, it would definitely be Android.
Fast forward almost a dozen years to last week. I was having a conversation with my dad and he was talking about replacing the Android tablet (a Motorola Xoom, btw) we had gotten for my mom, several years ago. We were discussing options and talked about a Chromebook, a new Android tablet, etc. Then we came around to my dad’s new, work-issued iPad. Knowing my fondness and preference for Android and open-source, he made some joke about I would never let him buy my mom an iPad. My response was, “Actually, it’s probably the best idea.” He was surprised, to be sure but, there is some method to my madness. It comes down to security. Now, obviously, we are talking about iOS, a commercial product of Apple, Inc, a company known to give info to the NSA like it was water and the NSA was dying of thirst. When I suggest that there are advantages in security that is different from there being advantages in privacy. iOS isn’t open and it isn’t private. There is one thing iOS has over most implementations of Android, and it has to do with how the OS is updated. Because Android is licensed by device manufacturers and in partnership with wireless carriers, it is incumbent upon them to update the version of Android installed on your device. There is an exception. If you buy a Google Play Store edition of the device, your updates come directly from Google. Therefore, your operating system is patched and updated regularly. But, if you rely on the carrier or manufacturer of the device, you might wait forever for that update. Meanwhile, you are using your device on public wifi and exposing yourself to any number of hacks and exploits. So, what is the average person to do? What does a g33kdad like yours truly do? Well, I reccomend iOS to average people becase I know they will be getting timely updates from Apple, Inc and they will be getting security patches on a regular basis. Myself, given a perfect world, I would own my device outright and not be dependant on a carrier for subsidy. Then I would run my own os, either CyanogenMOD, if I want something Android-based, or perhaps Ubuntu Phone or Sailfish, if I am ready for something new. However, I don’t currently own an unlocked phone, so I takes extra precautions. I never use public wifi for anything sensitive. If I have to use public wifi, i will elect to use my chromebook or laptop so I can set up an ssh tunnel as a SOCKS5 proxy…. but, that’s another article. 😉
Thnaks for reading. Subscribe to the podcast, please. Our next episode is a follow through on the discusion of ownCloud which I teased in the last episode. After that, I think we’re going to leave the techie stuff and talk about something more domestic. See you on the podcast!