Are rooted devices tracked

The Case Against Root: Why Android Devices Won't Root

We wrote about rooting your Android smartphones and tablets, but why aren't they rooted? Google argues that rooting is a security bug as it undermines Android's security model.

Over the years, Google has added more and more functions to Android that were strictly root - from screenshots to support for encryption and VPNs. The goal is to minimize the need for rooting.

What actually is rooting?

Android is based on Linux, where the "root" user corresponds to the administrator on Windows. The term “rooting” means that you can gain root access to your smartphone or tablet and run applications with these root privileges - in other words, full system access.

A standard root process also becomes an application like Superuser or SuperSU. This application monitors access to root. Applications on your device cannot always only be given root permissions, they must ask you to do so and you can accept or reject the request.

Breaking out of the Android security model

Android uses the Linux security model in aanders. Every Android app runs with its own user ID or UID. In other words, each app runs as a separate user account. This means that every app has its own data that is isolated from every other app. When you install your bank's app, your data is stored in such a way that it can only be accessed by the bank's app. Other apps on your device cannot access it.

In a standard Android configuration, no app can access the data of another app, regardless of how many permissions the app requires.

This all changes when you run an application as the root. The application no longer runs in a sandbox, but has access to the entire system. An app with root rights can read the data of other apps - this is how the excellent Titanium backup works and requires root.

Root prompts and malware

Full system access means malware could potentially use root access to do a lot more damage than is normally possible. Once an app has been granted root access, it can do anything - run a key logger in the background without telling you, extract your account information from other apps, or damage your device by deleting important system files.

Knowing what you're doing and only downloading trusted root apps can help you avoid this. But keep this in mind when considering how many less tech-savvy users are using Android. They don't care about running Titanium Backup and accessing the entire root filesystem - they just want it to work, make calls, and play Angry Birds.

In other words, you should probably not root your relatives' smartphones and tablets as a favor for them.

With great power comes great responsibility

The problems aren't just about malware. With full access to the root file system, you can delete critical system files in the root file system or disable critical system apps and prevent your device from working properly. Windows goes to great lengths to prevent average users from fooling around in the C: Windows folder for the same reason. If the average user doesn't understand what they're doing, they can wreak havoc on their operating system.

Warranty Considerations

CONNECTED:Will rooting or unlocking void your Android phone's warranty?

Some manufacturers or carriers may try to refuse to guarantee service if you have a rooted device. If you've used root access to modify your system files and the software has stopped working properly, then this makes sense. However, you should be able to restore the device to its factory default settings and fix the problem on your own.

If the device's hardware fails, rooting it can't be the cause (unless you've installed an overclocking app that requires root and heat destroys the hardware). In order to avoid arguments, you should disconnect the device from the network before putting it into operation.

This is another reason why you might not want to use a non-tech family member's device as the root device. It can cause problems if it ever needs to be repaired or replaced.

In conclusion, roots give you a lot of power - more power than Android is designed to give you. (It's Linux, however, and Linux works fine with root access.) An app with root access has no privilege restrictions and can cause serious problems. If you know what you are doing you should be fine - but you need to be more careful.

However, this authorization is only a liability for the average Android user. This is why Android will not be rooted. If an app could display a root permission prompt and get full access to the system, many less tech-savvy users would allow access so they could keep using the app. Some apps can even refuse to run without root access just to serve more nasty ads, just as many ad-supported apps today require a long list of permissions. The lack of root protects the average user.