CyanogenMod 9 Enhances Security Through Disabling Root

Users will have the option to leave root as it is, or to enable it

By Ionut Arghire on March 17th, 2012 14:11 GMT

CyanogenMod ROMs are some of the most popular custom OS flavors available for various Android-powered handsets out there.

They bring along new functionality of phones, along with access to more capabilities and new applications. Now, they also deliver more security enhancements.

In the latest CyanogenMod release, namely CM9, the security of devices will be enhanced through the merging of three patches into one, and through the disabling of root access on CM-running phones and tablets.

“Many of you may not give it a second glance, but among all the furor and concern about permissions requested by market apps and privacy, all Custom ROMs (CyanogenMod included) ship with one major security risk — root,” CyanogenMod notes in a blog post.

“We have been struggling with how to handle this for quite a bit, and took a first step with the first public CyanogenMod 9 alpha builds, by disabling the previously-default root access over USB. You can still get adb root access by running “adb root” in terminal, should you ever need it.”

CyanogenMod users will be able to enable root on their devices, although it will be disabled by default. People will be offered with the following options when it comes to root: Disabled, Enabled for ADB only, Enabled for Apps only, Enabled for both.

When it comes to default CyanogenMod installations, users will have to explicitly enable root access, which implies that they will be aware of the fact that applications based on root access might compromise security, stability and data integrity.

“Once enabled, the process mirrors that of the current process, apps that request root will be flagged by the SuperUser.apk and the user will have to grant selective access,” Cyanogen Mod explains.

CyanogenMod 9 is meant to close a massive security hole that appeared when over one million devices came to shelves with root access enabled. These changes should fill that gap, while also maintaining users’ freedom to do more with their devices.
CyanogenMod 9 with disabled root
   CyanogenMod 9 with disabled root
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