Android 14 will help to protect your device from Memory Safety bugs with Advanced Memory Protection
There are a lot of things that have been discovered with Android 14, and Advanced Memory Protection is one of those features that will add Quality of Life to the device. Google has been giving priority to Memory Safety lately and, until 2022, it has always been a concern for the majority of severe Android vulnerabilities.
Google developed the latest Android native code in the Rust programming language instead of using C or C++. This isn’t all; the company also tends to be working on other things, which include memory tagging, and this new setting could be toggled in the future.
Memory Tagging Extension (MTE) is a mandatory hardware feature of Arm V9 CPUs that will protect against memory safety bugs, as Android’s Memory Safety bugs tend to be some of the most severe bugs in software development. However, it will have a slight runtime performance cost overhead, as it provides information about memory violations.
Google said, “At the high level, MTE tags each memory allocation/deallocation with additional metadata. It assigns a tag to a memory location which can then be associated with pointers that reference that memory allocation at runtime. The CPU checks that the pointer and the metadata tags match on each load and store.”
The company also made it possible to toggle the settings for Memory Tagging Extension (MTE) for system processes at a build or through system properties and/or environment variables. It is not expected to be shipped enabled by default, so users need to enable it by requesting MTE Operating mode to the bootloader.
Alternatively, users may be able to enable this from the Developer Option, but this feature does require an Arm V8.5+ CPU with MTE Support. After enabling, users can check this by navigating to Device Settings > Security & Privacy > More Security Settings and then enable it by toggling the settings for it.
Currently, this feature doesn’t seem to be supported on existing devices as Google’s latest Pixel 7 runs on Arm v8.2 CPU cores and it tends to be designed for the upcoming Google Pixel 8 which is expected to be using an Arm v9 CPU core. The current generation CPUs like Samsung Galaxy S23 Series are supportable and all the CPUs like Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and Gen 2 Android Devices support this feature. This feature is important because more than 60% of high-severity security vulnerabilities and millions of user-visible crashes are expected by 2022 as per the report by Google.
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