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Browsing on Android isn't as dangerous as some may believe

I don't want to sound like a grizzled old Lou Grant smoking a cigar and tossing back belts of the scotch I keep in my desk for the days the news doesn't go so good (which is, incidentally, every day.) but there are some stories you just toss in the wait and watch pile.

Earlier today the word on the street was that if you even opened your browser on the Android mobile phone in your pocket, you had a 1 in 10 shot of opening the gates of hell, only to be swallowed whole into a fiery and lonesome abyss seconds later from which you shall never return. No pomp, no bells, no ceremony. Just a hole opening in the earth, swallowing you and all your little 'lectric bits and leaving your friends behind to argue over who was to take responsibility for your lunch tab.

Well, rest easy kids. Skip that extra blood pressure pill before bed and even grab the bacon in the morning with both fists because there is a good reason we didn't jump on the sky is falling, OMG WTH are Teh Patch3s!!!11 insanity earlier in the day. Google's Rich Cannings, Android Security Engineer who contacted Read Write Web summed up why the Android platform is a little less of a problem in the wild than some other OSes we've been conditioned to. Rich states in an email, ""Charlie Miller, a security researcher at Independent Security Evaluators, contacted security@android.com on January 21st regarding a bug in PacketVideo's OpenCore media library", continuing, "Media libraries are extremely complex and can lead to bugs, so we designed our mediaserver, which uses OpenCore, to work within its own application sandbox."

In fact, most parts of Android are designed with this sandbox method in mind. keeping the individual programs isolated from the OS and the other programs, and allowing message passing only through subscribed methods over which the user has ultimate control. I.e. If you don't give you Media Player access to your phone-book, it can't find the phone number for your aunt Millie in Rhode Island. The privacy breaches are generally more granular and contained, when they're able to happen at all.

Google's Rich Cannings lays it down a little more succinctly, "If the bug Charlie reported to us on January 21st is exploited, it would be limited to the mediaserver and could only exploit actions the mediaserver performs, such as listen to and alter some audio and visual media."

Regardless, Google says a patch has been prepared and has been pushed to the vendor (T-Mobile) for distribution. Given the (now) less critical nature of the bug users might expect less to see a rushed weekend patch job, and might see it more appropriate to patch a known and so far unexploited issue with limited scope on a more manageable schedule for the network.

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