Chrome OS evolving as a platform in the Linux ecosystem

Nov 22, 2018 10:05 GMT  ·  By  ·  Comment  · 
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The idea is still in its early days at Google
   The idea is still in its early days at Google

As part of its commitment to make Chrome OS the right operating system for everyone and for everything, Google is now planning another major update that would provide Linux apps with access to Android folders.

As things are right now, Chrome OS devices can run Chrome apps, Android apps from the Google Play Store, and Linux apps thanks to support for Debian.

However, each platform runs in its very own closed sandbox for obvious security reasons. The only location you can access from all three platforms is the downloads folder, which obviously makes sense given users need to always be able to reach the files they get from the web.

A future update is expected to push things even further by unlocking access to content in the “Play files” folder for Linux apps. Basically, as 9to5google notes, this would make it possible for Linux apps to access the Android app folder just like they do right now for Downloads.

Security concerns

What this means is that users would have to deal with fewer restrictions when moving data from one operating system to another, but at the same time, it also raises concerns regarding how security may be impacted by the lifted barriers.

Basically, the sandbox is supposed to block any malicious file from compromising another platform on the same device, and restricting access to the Downloads folder is one very effective way to do this.

But once Linux apps get access to more folders, including to Android’s own data, a potential exploit could produce much more damage, eventually reaching information it wouldn’t otherwise be able to get to.

At this point, however, this is just a commit discovered on the Chromium Gerrit source code management, so the idea is still in its early days. It remains to be seen when and if Google wants to finalize this project, but if it does, dealing with these security concerns may be the toughest part of the job.

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