Google has introduced a new security feature for its Pixel phones and tablets to ensure the authenticity of the purchased models. Pixel Binary Transparency empowers users to verify the integrity of the Android factory image and confirm that it has not been tampered with during the supply chain process.
This feature builds upon Android Verified Boot, which guarantees that the source code originates from the hardware vendor. For Google phones, it guarantees that the code on the phone aligns with Google’s audited version, free from any potential backdoors.
Binary Transparency, as explained by Google, enables users to validate the presence of the official factory image on their phone. This ensures that no attackers have maliciously altered the source code, build process, or release aspects of the software supply chain.
By utilizing a public cryptographic log, Google mathematically proves that the devices are free from any tampered code. Google has provided instructions for users to run a check and compare their image with the one listed in the log. This involves extracting the relevant metadata and comparing the recomputed root hash with the root hash published in the checkpoint.
If the hashes match, Pixel owners can have confidence in the protections provided by the Threat Model.
The log implements a Merkle tree, ensuring its integrity by making it impossible to alter or delete. If hackers manage to tamper with an image, it will no longer match the metadata in the log, thereby revealing the tampering attempt.
While Android Verified Boot ensures the legitimacy of Android software, Binary Transparency caters to power users seeking heightened security measures.
Google also stated its commitment to expanding this feature in the future, allowing users to access even more transparent security data. This will enable proactive assurance for a device’s other executed code, going beyond just the factory image.
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Deepak Sen is a tech enthusiast who covers the latest technological innovations, from AI to consumer gadgets. His articles provide readers with a glimpse into the ever-evolving world of technology.