Govt gives top officials Reliance Jio-powered Google Pixel phones for ‘safe communication’

NEW DELHI: At least 80 high-end Google Pixel’customised’ phones with Jio SIMs have been given to top bureaucrats on a ‘trial’ basis to ensure secure communication among them, according to a source in the IT ministry.

The home ministry had drawn up a list of 100 officials from multiple ministries for the purpose, and 80 of these devices have been handed out so far, the source said.

The balance 20 units are in the pipeline, he added.

The project is at a ‘pilot’ stage and the sample distribution is for measuring the performance and security of the device.

Google announces list of 100 ‘most secure’ Android phones and devices

One of the biggest problems of Android smartphones has been the OS’ fragmentation. This is also said to be among the key reasons behind the frequent ‘dangerous attacks’ on Android smartphones and other devices. To tackle this, Google works with Android smartphone companies to ensure that security and other issues are fixed on their devices through monthly security updates. The company has released a list of over 100 device models that have a majority of their deployed devices running a security update from the last 90 days. Here’s over to Android smartphones and tablets from Google’s list of ‘most secure’ devices. Note: The list largely includes only the devices that have launched in India.

Google: Pixel XL, Pixel, Nexus 6P, Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 9

Five Google devices make it to the list. These include — other than the last year’s flagship smartphones Google Pixel and Pixel XL — Nexus 6P, Nexus 6, Nexus 5X and Nexus 9.

Samsung: Galaxy S8+, Galaxy S8, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Edge, Galaxy S7 Active, Galaxy S6 Active, Galaxy S5 Dual SIM, Galaxy C9 Pro, Galaxy C7, Galaxy J7, Galaxy On7 Pro, Galaxy J2, Galaxy A8, Galaxy Tab S2 9.7

Samsung has the maximum smartphones on the list. The company has 10-plus smartphones and a tablet. These include Galaxy S8+, Galaxy S8, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Edge, Galaxy S7 Active, Galaxy S6 Active, Galaxy S5 Dual SIM, Galaxy C9 Pro, Galaxy C7, Galaxy J7, Galaxy On7 Pro, Galaxy J2, Galaxy A8 and Galaxy Tab S2 9.7.

Gionee: A1

Chinese smartphone brand Gionee only has one smartphone in Google’s list — Gionee A1. Unveiled at MWC 2017, the smartphone launched in India in March this year at Rs 19,999.

LG: LG G6, V20, Stylo V2, GPAD 7.0 LTE

LG’s list includes two more smartphones other than the company’s latest flagship smartphone LG G6, these include V20 and Stylo V2. On tablets’ front LG GPAD 7.0 LTE makes it to the Google’s ‘secure list’.

Motorola: Moto Z, Moto Z Droid

Lenovo-owned Motorola’s two smartphones too make it to the list — Moto Z and Moto Z Droid. Interestingly, none of the Lenovo smartphones are there in the list including Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, the company’s ‘big-ticket launch’ last year.

Sony: Xperia XA1, Xperia X

Japanese smartphone maker’s last year flagship Sony Xperia X too is part of the Google’s list. The other smartphone on the list is Sony Xperia XA1 launched in April this year at Rs 19,990. The smartphone is successor of the Sony Xperia XA launched in the year 2016.

Vivo: Vivo 1609, Vivo 1601, Vivo Y55

The Chinese smartphone maker Vivo’s three smartphones Vivo 1609, Vivo 1601 and Vivo Y55 too form part of the Google’s list. However, none of these smartphones from the company have been launched in India so far. This also means that none of the smartphones launched in India by the company are part of Google’s ‘secure list’.

Oppo: CPH1613, CPH1605

Two Oppo smartphones too make it to the list. The company, however, has given the model numbers of the two smartphones — CPH1613 and CPH1605.

Blackberry: Priv

Canadian smartphone company Blackberry’s first Android phone Priv too makes it to the Google’s list. The smartphone launched in India in January last year at Rs 62,990. BlackBerry Priv sports 5.4-inch display and is powered by a 1.8 GHz hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 3GB RAM and 32GB of internal memory (expandable by up to 2TB). The smartphone has an 18 megapixel rear and 2 megapixel front camera with 3,410 mAh battery.
The Google Pixel phones were found to be compliant with the specifications given by the home ministry, and the ‘customisation’ of the 4G phones was undertaken by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) and Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL).

A home ministry official said that while the handset and the telecom service provider are important elements of security, the critical aspect is the application on which the communication — both voice and data — is based.

“If that and the application server are secured, encrypted and appropriately certified, the security issues can be broadly addressed,” the official said.

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