Does Android P private DNS really contribute to privacy? Or to Enterprise control?

Private DNS is a new feature in Android P, which allows you to globally override the DNS settings (received from your carrier, hotspot provider etc.). This means that the said carrier’s or provider’s DNS servers will not be able to log your browsing habits.

Read more here (Android Police).

Private DNS configuration (c) Android Police

This looks like privacy, but isn’t necessarily so…



iOS Trustjacking protection with EMM

Trustjacking is a new “scary” attack on iOSnew “scary” attack on iOS devices, exploiting user’s lack of understanding or what’s going on. When plugging into an unknown computer or charger user may choose to “trust” it, which allows the remote device quite a degree of access to iPhone/iPad data. Many don’t realize that this trust remains after the device is disconnected and may be exploited, for instance, via Wi-Fi, if Wi-Fi sync is enabled. Many others also think that this trust is necessary for charging.

What is really should read: “Your settings and data will be accessible from this computer even after disconnected. You DON’T need this for charging”

Basically, Apple should have looked at how Android 6+ has a “charge only” USB mode by default, fixed the wording and be done with it.

Protecting from this attack is extremely simple on Supervised (DEP) devices via EMM.

Here’s how it’s done via AirWatch, but any other major EMM will have something similar – this is Apple’s standard OS feature.

iOS Trustjacking AW
iOS Trustjacking protection: it only takes one tick

As a bonus, this will prevent not just the Trustjacking attack, but many other threats and leaks, since it blocks everything.

Wondering, how many had this configured before the Trustjacking news?

Change of wind

Those of you who follow me on LinkedIn may have noticed that I have a new workplace, which comes with a Digital Workspace.

This means less wireless, but even more on Enterprise Mobility, EMMs, mobile security Android, iOS, Windows 10 and MacOS (did you know that both MS and Apple made their desktop OSes manageable by EMM ?)

If you are not following me in LinkedIn and Twitter, you are probably missing 90% of the stuff! So, please consider (or save yourself lots of noise and unsubscribe – fair enough 😉 )

Why VMware/AirWatch, why EMM?

This is going to be a long-ish and exalted neophyte read, purely optional.

If you prefer a less-neophyte approach, here’s a post of a very influential EMM expert (I follow for quite a while) that did the same thing around the same time as I.

OK, now my version.. You’ve been warned 🙂

Given the events in the last two years, I think that UEM solutions are ripe for conquering whatever remaining market is left there, and VMware is surely spearheading the charge with AirWatch (market-dominant) and the new WorkSpace ONE (watch the cool 7-min  demo here). I am personally really sold on this story and here’s why:

  • One can’t manage iOS without EMM
  • In 2017 Google had really made Android Enterprise their focus, and I believe it is now very much ready for “serious” Enterprise use. Up to the point of stating that GMS devices are now better and more secure than non-GMS. That being said, I’ve never been a fan of AirWatch managing Android pre-AE, but with AE the playing field is levelled and most of the custom stuff that other EMM vendors did no longer matters.
  • Desktop OSes (Win10 1709+ and MacOS High Sierra+) can be managed with EMM just like the mobile devices, and both MS and Apple seem to take this direction seriously.
  • CE6 is dead and WEHH6.5 dies in less than two years. Given no other competition, everythin will be either iOS or Android, and none of those can be realistically deployed without MDM/EMM. And another weak spot for AirWatch that is going away soon.
  • Identity management and SSO have fully matured in the last few years, and are ripe to become standard, rather than “enhanced/advanced” functionality in the Enterprise infrastructure. And WorkSpace ONE (if you’ve seen the demo) has a unique value proposition here.
  • Being able to show off AutoCad on an iPad is cool! 🙂 But more importantly, being able to free the enterprise from the leash of legacy apps (must have IE6, Java5 etc etc etc) by delivering them virtualized even to mobile devices means that mobile first has to real reason not to happen.
  • Who else can combine the industry-leading EMM/UEM, identity management and virtualization into one package?

So, where else to be in the EMM world? 🙂

Or do you disagree? Let me know your thoughts here or on LinkedIn/Twitter!

P.S. Bonus point to those who recognize the cover image 🙂


Do Android Enterprise and GMS mean the end of differentiation for Android Device and EMM vendors?

After publishing my post regarding tightening the screws on non-GMS devices and gradual move towards all-GMS in the Enterprise, I have received a response, which was very representative of what I was thinking last year, when digesting all the Android Enterprise news [formatting and edit by me]:

AOSP was or still is the major [vendor]  differentiator. With all these Android changes
1) it will be almost no matter what devices will be engaged
2) the role of 3rd party EMMs will go down. Google will be everywhere.
Do you feel it as a positive news?

Before looking any further, please pause and consider, how do you feel about that? Now, read on!


Lockdown in Android Enterprise (Android P DP1)

I’ve previously covered the BYOD experience in Android P, now let’s delve into corporate-owned scenarios. My attempt to cover everything in a single long post had failed, so I’m splitting this into a series. Today we’re covering lockdown.


Early Android ideology assumed that device lockdown should be impossible. After all, here’s how ransomware works 😊 User is King and should always be able to regain control of the device. Earlier versions of Compatibility Definition Document even mandated that Home button and Factory Reset were always available to the user. The closest one could get to a locked down (kiosk/single application mode) device was to write a custom launcher that would then auto-launch or provide access to a limited set of apps. But even then user could simply pull the notification share to access quick settings, use the Recents screen to switch between tasks etc. In general, lockdown was not possible unless one used undocumented APIs and hacks or had custom OS extensions and special tools such as Zebra MX combined with Zebra Enterprise Home Screen. Needless to say, such tools were vendor (and sometimes even OS build!) specific and had their limitations.

In Android 5 Google began addressing the issue by introducing two new modes.

Screen Pinning (Android L)

Screen Pinning (also sometimes called App Pinning in documentation) is a simpler “user-facing” and user-initiated scenario. This one enables you to give your phone to someone else, locked down to a single app (browser, game etc, but not your emails or phone book).

User enables screen pinning in settings, selects an app, performs a special gesture – voila! Similarly, to end the mode user performs a gesture, and there is an optional lock screen protection. There are countless tutorials in the Internet, and here’s a simple animated GIF I had created.

Screen Pinning example


Note, however, this is 100% user-controlled. How about Enterprise Admin?

Lock Task mode (Android L,M)

Another mode introduced in Android L was called Lock Task. This one allowed the app itself to enter a lockdown mode and control what user can or cannot do. Sounds like the right thing to do? There were, however, complications:

  • To avoid the ransomware threat, the app had to be first whitelisted by the Device Owner (i.e. your EMM agent). So the setup process was not that simple.
  • And yes, if your device was not enrolled into Device Owner (work-managed) mode (using old Device Administration API etc) – you could not use that feature.
  • The admin could not choose any app – the app had to be built with Lock Task support. Otherwise, you could not use that feature.
  • The app itself had to provide mechanism to end the Lock Task mode. If the app got frozen, you had to reboot the device.
  • Since Android L had very little in terms of UI control (Notifications, Recents, etc) the whole thing only made sense with Marshmallow or later.
From Google developer documentation

There were of course good things – you (well, the app) could quite precisely (well, in Android M+) control which UI elements to hide (well, only combined with other DPC features). Anyway, most importantly, this at least allowed the EMM vendors to finally write reliable lockdown plugins as part of their EMM suites (provided uses had work-managed devices).

Android N and O added a few bits here and there, but overall, the flexibility and ease of use were still quite far away from the aforementioned Zebra MX+EHS combination, for instance.

Until Google NAILED it in Android P!

Android P Enhancements

Android P adds a few missing pieces that finally complete the puzzle:

  • Admins can lock down any app to a device – no more the Admin depends on the Developer!
    • The app still has to be whitelisted, as a security precaution
    • Similarly, if the app is frozen or just has no “Exit” option, it can be terminated remotely (think kiosks)
  • Admins can choose which UI features to display: again, no Developer dependency and those restrictions are only for the duration on the Lock Task mode (previously they were very much global). Here are the features available:
    • LOCK_TASK_FEATURE_NONE (shortcut for “Disable everything”)
  • Error dialogs may be suppressed as well (think kiosks again). Those are, of course, system error messages, not what the app shows within itself.

Below are a few screenshots of Lock Task mode in Android P preview. Since there are no official EMM agents supporting P yet, I have been using the TestDPC app from the Google Android Enterprise team. Note that the Play Store version (at the time of writing this post) is still old – you’d have to download and sign the APK from GitHub instead.

LockTask general demo:

Kiosk features:


Screen Pinning

  • User-initiated
  • Simple and easy, no app support required
  • No admin control
  • Makes little sense w/o password

Lock Task (Android P)

  • Admin/app controlled (requires EMM support, also app support pre-P)
  • Admin/App-initiated
  • Much more flexible (especially in P)
  • Makes full sense for COSU

So I think that Google did indeed NAIL it firmly and decisively!

As a bonus, lockdown solution developers can focus on providing value-add (SSO etc) vs fighting the OS, especially when combined with ephemeral user support in P!

What are your thoughts? How do you like my blurry videos?

Android Enterprise BYOD Experience in Android P [Demo]

Android P Developer Preview One has been released this week. Among many features, there are Enterprise enhancements in both UI/UX as well as under the hood.  Seems to be a good time to try some of them out!

Today we will be discussing the BYOD user experience: device enrollment, work/personal separation, compliance etc. Later, I am planning to cover the COBO/COSU (fully Work-Managed device) use case as well as some more advanced features.

Warning, many pictures!