Tracking down a bug lurking in the depths of one of the world’s most popular mobile operating systems has propelled a University of Waikato researcher into Google’s Hall of Fame.
PhD student Joshua Scarsbrook from Cyber Security Researchers of Waikato (CROW) was checking out information a Google employee had released on the open source code, when he found a particular file that contained passwords for accessing internal systems. The keys could in theory allow access to private areas of the Android system - and potentially, access to trade secrets if they got into the wrong hands.
Joshua says he is constantly on the lookout for things that might be out of place. “Often I've come across information that I suspect should not be public, but this was the first time the information posed enough of a threat to Google that it officially designated what I found as a security risk.”
He is one of only a handful of New Zealanders who have made it to the Hall of Fame, which recognises individuals who have helped improve security and make internet giant Google’s products safer. The company says there are over 2 billion active Android devices world-wide, so that is no mean feat.
Joshua’s security flaw has now been repaired, and he’s back to hunting bugs, his PhD, and exterminating more threats to communications in the world of cyber security.