Companies, are taking advantage of smartphones to deploy software where it wasn’t before possible. For engineering teams, low-cost consumer features like Bluetooth and NFC are vital components of next generation product development in healthcare, transportation, and more. In addition, the Android OS can be customized for enterprise specs. However, there are drawbacks to relying on a supply chain optimized for consumers.
Today, these companies have two choices in deploying on these devices. Either, build their own custom operating system, or use mobile device management (MDM) software to try to cover up the operating system shipped with their off-the-shelf device.
Companies have resorted to MDM software to manage enterprise applications to avoid having to build their own operating system. While MDM is useful to manage BYOD smartphones for the white collar worker, its level of control doesn’t go much lower on the stack. MDM software providers remain at the mercy of manufacturers for OS and system updates. Outside of a short list of features to manage consumer devices, MDM fails to have complete control compared to a custom Android OS.
Building Android ROMs on consumer devices gets complicated quickly though. After all, not everyone has the resources of Amazon when the built Kindle Fire OS. Up until now, merging custom Android and dedicated hardware into a closed ecosystem was reserved for companies that had the resources to build their own infrastructure. Without this infrastructure, developers face unexpected delays due to issues with device compatibility, security, and readiness for deployment.
The bootloader is the system manager that manages what OS software to run when the device is powered on. Flashing a custom OS on to consumer-off-the-shelf Android devices requires an unlocked bootloader, which is controlled by the manufacturer.
Consumer smartphones can be easily unlocked for anyone to plug in and install their software, benign or malicious. Even if your application is secure, the device and system can still be compromised.
System management tools are critical for security but are unavailable for companies resulting in homegrown solutions. Attempting to secure an unlocked bootloader on most consumer Android devices isn’t possible without a hardware modification at the point of production.
Mason offers an unlocked “developer” version and a locked “production” version for certified Mason devices. During manufacturing, unique developer or production keys are burned onto the device circuit board. Production OS builds can only be assigned to production devices and a compromised bootloader on a device in the field can be flagged. Using Mason, companies can easily manage developer and production releases without having to build expensive infrastructure.
Learn about how Mason gives you security features from the hardware layer up. Schedule a demo today.
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