Saturday, June 15, 2013

OpenPDroid – Protect your Privacy in an Android Phone

Whenever we download an application from the Android Play Store, it shows us the permissions the applications uses. Many applications access our data like, location, usage statistics, contacts, messages, phone numbers. Even if we don't want to share a particular data with the application due to privacy concerns, the only way not to share data is to uninstall the application. We can also provide fake data to the application. But HOW?
OpenPDroid helps protect your privacy by providing real, fake, null or random data based on our preferences. We can configure OpenPDroid for each and every application installed on our device, so we can configure what data to share with various applications. For example, if we have set our preference as to provide location as 'Mumbai' for Facebook app, then even if we are in USA, Facebook will only get location as 'Mumbai'. Fascinating, isn't it?

PDroid Manager Application Interface
PDroid Manager Application
Description of OpenPDroid from the developer:

OpenPDroid is a set of modifications to the Android framework and libraries which allows fine-tuning of the data which applications are able to retrieve about your device, your account, your messages, and more.

“OpenPDroid intervenes in API interactions by apps (e.g. when an app attempts to retrieve your location, phone number, or contacts) and provides real data, empty data, fake data or random data, depending on the user setting.”

As OpenPDroid just modifies the data requested by the app without modifying the permissions of the app, there is very less chance of getting undesired effects like Force Close of app, etc. OpenPDroid supports Android versions 4.1.2 and 4.2.1, and is also completely open-source.

Permissions of Google Chrome on Android
Permissions of Google Chrome

This actually needs modification of Android framework and hence is hard to implement on a particular Android OS you already have, and is not as easy as installing an app. This mod should be added to Android ROM when the ROM is compiled from source. There also is a tool named auto-patcher for implementing the mod in an existing ROM. The tool is available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.
Though implementing OpenPDroid requires much effort, it is well worth, if you are concerned about your privacy from the big list of permissions required by various apps you use.

For more information, you can refer to: OpenPDroid