Google has seemingly rolled out a new feature that allows users on new generation Android smartphones to disable any 2G network connectivity. The feature is available in select Android devices, including the new generation Pixel phones and the latest Samsung smartphones as well, according to a report by privacy watchdog, Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Google disables 2G, Apple holds back
The move has been largely welcomed by the privacy community. According to reports, the move has been a much required one as vulnerabilities of the 2G network are reportedly exploited regularly by scammers to impersonate network operators and potentially steal sensitive data. At the heart of this is the use of weak encryption standards of 2G, a network generation that was originally introduced to the world in 1991. According to reports, hackers can intercept the communication between a 2G tower and a device very easily.
Furthermore, the lack of cell tower authentication in 2G networks means that cell site impersonators can mimic a network operator to gain access to a user’s network communications, thereby intercepting messages and stealing potentially sensitive data. In return, users will likely get no service in areas where network blackouts occur.
Despite all the progress, India still has pockets where 4G connectivity is far from ubiquitous. The latter, which is the latest generation of connectivity available in India, introduced new security standards that patched many of 2G gaping security gaffes. According to reports, 2G’s flaws are regularly exploited for surveillance purposes, and Google’s new feature will now help protect against the same.
Users can simply access their network settings on a new Android phone, and switch off the toggle in the ‘Allow 2G’ field. However, Apple has not spoken about or offered such a feature on its iOS software platform yet, and it remains to be seen if it may introduce such a feature in future updates.
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