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Google Reveals Work Profile Privacy Features in Android 11

Android 11

Google this week announced improved privacy and security features in Android 11, including a series of enhancements aimed specifically at employees.

Android 11

Google this week announced improved privacy and security features in Android 11, including a series of enhancements aimed specifically at employees.

Android 11 is the seventh operating system release to include enterprise features since the introduction of the work profile in 2014 to separate work data on employees’ personal devices. The new platform iteration, Google says, brings the work profile privacy protections to enterprise-issued devices.

Now, the work profile delivers additional device controls, including asset management tools and policies to regulate personal usage, so that IT teams can ensure that the device is compliant with corporate policy while the employee’s privacy remains protected.

Regardless of whether they are personal or enterprise-owned devices, data separation and security controls are in place to ensure that work data remains secure in the work profile, the Internet search giant says.

Android 11 also shows a notification when work apps are granted access to device location, to keep employees informed on their location privacy.

“We’ve also enhanced our agreements with device manufacturers to help ensure all work profile privacy protections are reliably enforced,” Google says.

The separation of work and personal data was taken a step further in Android 11 with separate tabs being shown for work and personal when sharing files, opening content, or accessing the settings menu.

Now, it’s easier to pause the work profile to disconnect at the end of the day, through removing unwanted distractions and allowing employees to set a schedule for work apps to be automatically paused.

“Finally, for those times when it’s helpful to view work and personal data at the same time, we’ve built a new secure mechanism for merged experiences, allowing trusted apps to connect between work and personal profiles. Both employees and IT must approve the way an app will handle security and user privacy before allowing an app to connect,” the company explains.

The new platform iteration also delivers additional security and management features for organizations to ensure better protection of their data.

Building on last year’s introduction of Google Play system updates to patch OS components directly, Android 11 expands the list of privacy and security components that can be updated this way, with nine additions.

Additionally, the new platform release comes with more IT controls for always-on VPN configurations, support for pre-granting certificate access for work apps (to eliminate user interaction), and device attestation via individual certificates, among others.

To counter spam and scam calls, Android 11 brings Verified Calls by Google, where the user is shown “the caller’s name, logo, reason for calling and a verification symbol indicating the business has been authenticated by Google.”

The Internet company says that no personally identifiable information is collected after verification. The feature is included in Google’s Phone app, which is already pre-loaded on many devices and will soon become available for even more of them.

Google says that Verified Calls, which it has been testing for a few months, increases the likelihood of users answering a call, which in turn lowers business costs.

The U.S., Mexico, Brazil, Spain and India are getting Verified Calls first, with more countries to follow.

Android 11 brings a variety of other improvements as well, designed to make it easier for users to manage privacy, conversations, connected devices, and more.

Related: Google Details Memory-Related Security Improvements in Android 11

Related: Android’s September 2020 Patches Fix Critical System Vulnerabilities

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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