Security

Upcoming Google “Files” Will Feature a PIN-Protected Folder

By Bill Toulas / June 13, 2020

Google will soon bring a new privacy and security feature to Android’s default file manager, “Files.” According to a report by 9to5Google, who took apart a beta APK of “Files” to figure what we should be expecting in the upcoming versions, there’s a new “safe folder” feature that could land on the stable version of the application soon. While the creation of a protected folder on Android isn’t anything that was impossible before, this is the first time that users will be able to do it on the default file manager without having to use a third-party app.

As the researchers found out, the new “Safe folder” will be protected by a PIN, which will be different from the PIN used to unlock the device. So, it could be anything that the user sets up, although the number of digits hasn’t been disclosed yet. Another little detail is that, for now, there seems to be no PIN recovery mechanism in place. It means that if the users forget what the PIN is, they will be locked out of the folder. Of course, we may see some recovery options being added later on, like something sent to a backup email address that is not active on the device.

Users will be able to either store newly created files on the “Safe folder” or move existing data there. In either case, the PIN will have to be provided. The contents of the folder will be encrypted, ensuring that even if the device gets stolen and plugged in a computer, there will be no way to access the content. No technical details on that part were revealed either, but we’re sure that it’s going to be a strong encryption that won’t risk the user files no matter what happens.

This is bound to raise the usual voices of concern about protecting terrorists and child abusers by not allowing the authorities to use an encryption backdoor that would let them gather incriminatory evidence. Still, as mentioned previously, creating an encrypted and password-protected folder on Android has been possible for many years now by using other apps - it’s just that doing it through “Files” will make it a lot easier and straightforward. Samsung has been offering pretty much the same thing with the “Secure Folder” for a while now, so Google is merely catching up.



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