The Google Pixel and Pixel XL are two of the most impressive Android handsets money can buy. Google’s first ever, iPhone-grade rivals, the Pixels are supposed to offer buyers the same premium features as Apple’s smartphone. Whether it’s design, hardware, or software experience, the Pixel is probably one of the best smartphones Android fans should consider.
But is it at least as secure as the iPhone? In early November, Google’s director for Android security Adrian Ludwig said that the Pixels are “for sure” as secure ad the iPhone. However, white hat hackers managed to obtain full remote access to the phone in less than 30 seconds. That’s just a little scary.
White hat hackers are the right kind of hackers, the kind that will share software security inconsistencies with companies so they can fix it because the evil hackers can exploit them. But the fact they managed to crack the Pixel as fast is somewhat alarming for the bigger picture.
What hackers did was to “gain full and complete remote access to the phone, including personal information like contacts, call logs, and messages.” Because the Pixels are Google’s Nexus replacements, they happen to run Google’s finest Android OS version, one that should be even more secure that older releases. And one that isn’t available on most Android handsets that do not have Nexus or Pixel in their names. But if Google’s best phones can be cracked as fast, what about other Android handsets that Google can’t patch as quickly?
According to Digital Trends, Google has already patched the exploit, so your Pixel should be back to “for sure” as secure as the iPhone. Yay for science! What’s not clear here is whether the exploit can be used on any Android device. In case it can be, then it’s a much bigger issue that Google can’t fix because it still doesn’t control Android updates.
The hackers from security firm Qihoo 360 also broke Adobe’s Flash (under four seconds) and Apple’s Safari (less than 20 seconds). For these feats, they earned $120,000 a piece for the Google and Adobe hits and $80,000 for the attack on Apple. The hacks took place at the PwnFest hack event in Seoul, South Korea.
It’ll definitely be interesting to see if they can also crack the iPhone 7 in a similar manner.