Free and Open Source Apps for Android

The problem with smartphone apps is that they cannot be trusted.  Sure that new game is fun, but what about all the ads?  Did you know that ads can contain malicious links?  And what about all the apps that include location in their permissions?  Wouldn’t it be great if there was an alternative?

F-Droid is a platform for free and open source software for the Android platform.  Because the software is open-source, F-Droid has the ability to review the source code before adding the app to their download site.  F-Droid is concerned with privacy, and does not track your device, or what you install.  There is a small client to download to your phone, and you can install it without creating an account, and leaving personal information in their hands.  They do not allow users to download apps that use location tracking unless you specifically authorize that capability.  (Some apps need location to function after all.)

The source code is available to anyone under the GNU Affero General Public License version 3.

You have to get the F-Droid app from their website, it is not in the Google Play Store.  Technically, this is a bit like app side-loading, which is a security risk, but this project appears to be well managed and secure.

But even the Apple Store and the Google Play Store have problems every year with apps that contain malicious functions, so there are no guarantees there.  One of the advantages of open source software is that the code can be analyzed by anyone, and bugs and other flaws are reported promptly.  This has never been true of proprietary software.

So give F-Droid a look and see what you think.

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About the Author:

Cybersecurity analyst, pen-tester, trainer, and speaker. Owner of the WyzCo Group Inc. In addition to consulting on security products and services, Bob also conducts security audits, compliance audits, vulnerability assessments and penetration tests. Bob also teaches Cybersecurity Awareness Training classes. Bob works as an instruction for CompTIA’s non-profit IT-Ready Program in the Twin Cities. IT-Ready is a tuition free 8-week program designed to teach students of all ages the fundamentals of IT support to prepare them for an entry level position in Information Technology Support. Graduates of the classes take the exams to become CompTIA A+ certified. Bob is a frequent speaker at conferences such as the Minnesota Bloggers Conference, Secure360 Security Conference2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, the (ISC)2 World Congress 2016, and the ISSA International Conference 2017, and many local community organizations, including Chambers of Commerce, SCORE, and several school districts. Bob has been blogging on cybersecurity since 2006 at http://wyzguyscybersecurity.com

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