Thursday, December 29, 2016

An Open Letter to Android or “Android, You Are Shit!”

Dear Android:

I know you are an operating system and probably cannot (yet?) read on your own. However, recent events compelled me to write this letter to you; an idea for it literally came to me in a dream.

You see, I have carried an Android phone in my pocket since 2010, for almost six years. First Sony Experia X10 (eventually running a venerable Android 2.3.7), then another phone and then finally a Google Nexus 4 and now Google Nexus 5X (sporting Android 7.1.1). At some point, I traded an iPad for a Google Nexus 9. A [sort of] Android Amazon Fire is my living room Android. I have convinced my wife to start using Android as well and she became a fan too. This represents a multi-year love affair with you, dear Android.

In fact, dear Android, I often had to defend you from packs from rabid Apple fanboys, generally with good results - I either won or we had a draw. Over the years, I had to defend my mobile technology choices from many people: “No, it is NOT an iPhone, it is a Nexus”, “Yes, I chose Android because I like it more than iPhone, not because it is cheaper”, “Yes, I think Google Now is way more useful than Siri”, etc, etc. I’ve counter-attacked with arguments about “closed Apple ecosystem”, “one stupid button” and “overpriced devices.”   As a person who follows information technology, I am aware of Android many strengths such as better background processes and multi-tasking, security improvements, flexible user interface, Google Now integration, etc.

However, as I am writing this, my beloved Nexus 5X is no longer with me. In fact, recent events have triggered some soul-searching and ultimately this letter. While doing my soul-searching, I realized that my love affair with you, Android, has some strong dysfunctional notes. You see, I think I always suspected that you are shit.

Over the years, I’ve been using my Android devices carefully and thoughtfully – I never rooted them, never sideloaded apps [well, not to my main personal phone], and I even tried to minimize my use of non-Google applications, etc.  However, as I recall my experiences with Android over the last six years, I am saddened to report that you, Android, never really worked quite right.

In fact, I distilled my reasons to calling you “shit” to one key point: I have never really trusted you, because you have never worked reliably enough to earn such trust.

Indeed, my Sony phone will sometimes crash and reboot, or freeze (“battery out” was the only cure). I of course explained it by “growing pains of Android, the new mobile OS”…after all you were just in v.2., practically a baby. My Nexus 4 used to crash and shut down as well; apps will often drain the battery to zero without any warning.  Furthermore, even nowadays, my Google Nexus 9 tablet (running Android 7.1.1) will occasionally just shut down out of the blue – I just had to restart it earlier today.  A few days before my Nexus 5X untimely death - just 1 year and 9 days after purchase, the phone rebooted when I launched a Camera app. Such random reboots and crashes were not common with my Nexus 5X, but they did happen periodically.  And then finally, my Nexus 5X entered an endless reboot loop a few days after the 7.1.1 OTA update and now has to be replaced. No troubleshooting steps helped.

OK, Google, you want to blame the hardware, perhaps? My experiences over the last 6 years sap the energy from this argument. I used the hardware from 3 different makers, all running Android, all having stability problems.

You see, Android, I don’t care about improved malware protection, faster UI and about the fact that you are “really Linux.” I don’t care about your growing market share.  An OS that cannot stay up is shit OS. And, you, my dear OS friend, is shit.

In fact, as my employer gave me an iPhone (first 4S and now 5S), a peculiar pattern of behavior developed in my life: if I absolutely, positively had to call an Uber on a dark and stormy night, I will stash my work iPhone in my back pocket, just in case. If I have to show a boarding pass to a permanently angry TSA agent, I will print it or use an iPhone. In fact, I was not even aware of this “if it has to happen – use iPhone” pattern until my wife asked me about why I was printing another boarding pass and I said “Ok, I guess I can use an iPhone for that” – and so I realized that I just won’t trust my Android device with this.

Dear Android, you may be a full-featured OS now, but you are just not mission critical. In fact, you are the opposite of that – you are iffy. And the only reason for why a version SEVEN (not version TWO with growing pains, mind you) will not achieve this reliability is obvious to me – you are shit.

Android, I’ve never really trusted you and I don’t trust you now. I’ve lived with you since your version 2.1 to a current 7.1.1. The only way you can still have "growing pains" after so many years is that you are a shit OS.

Despite all that, dear Android, I will take one more chance with you. When my Google Nexus 5X is repaired and then hopefully continues working for a while, I will stick to using you. But, sorry, no promises beyond that point!

Respectfully ... but distrustfully,

Dr. Anton Chuvakin
(as a consumer, NOT as a technology analyst!)

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Monthly Blog Round-Up – November 2016

Here is my next monthly "Security Warrior" blog round-up of top 5 popular posts/topics this month:
  1. “New SIEM Whitepaper on Use Cases In-Depth OUT!” (dated 2010) presents a whitepaper on select SIEM use cases described in depth with rules and reports [using now-defunct SIEM product]; also see this SIEM use case in depth and this for a more current list of popular SIEM use cases. Finally, see our 2016 research on developing security monitoring use cases here!
  2. Why No Open Source SIEM, EVER?” contains some of my SIEM thinking from 2009. Is it relevant now? You be the judge.  Succeeding with SIEM requires a lot of work, whether you paid for the software, or not. BTW, this post has an amazing “staying power” that is hard to explain – I suspect it has to do with people wanting “free stuff” and googling for “open source SIEM” … 
  3. Simple Log Review Checklist Released!” is often at the top of this list – this aging checklist is still a very useful tool for many people. “On Free Log Management Tools” (also aged a bit by now) is a companion to the checklist (updated version)
  4. My classic PCI DSS Log Review series is always popular! The series of 18 posts cover a comprehensive log review approach (OK for PCI DSS 3+ as well), useful for building log review processes and procedures, whether regulatory or not. It is also described in more detail in our Log Management book and mentioned in our PCI book (now in its 4th edition!)
  5. “SIEM Resourcing or How Much the Friggin’ Thing Would REALLY Cost Me?” is a quick framework for assessing the costs of a SIEM project (well, a program, really) at an organization (much more details on this here in this paper).
In addition, I’d like to draw your attention to a few recent posts from my Gartner blog [which, BTW, now has about 5X of the traffic of this blog]: 
Current research on security analytics and UBA / UEBA:
Recent research on deception:
Past research on SOC:
Miscellaneous fun posts:

(see all my published Gartner research here)
Also see my past monthly and annual “Top Popular Blog Posts” – 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015.

Disclaimer: most content at SecurityWarrior blog was written before I joined Gartner on Aug 1, 2011 and is solely my personal view at the time of writing. For my current security blogging, go here.

Previous post in this endless series:

Dr Anton Chuvakin