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Shut the HAL Up: Isolating Android HALs

Shut the HAL Up
18 July 2017
Jeff Vander Stoep, Senior Software Engineer, Android Security

Updates are essential for security, but they can be difficult and expensive for device manufacturers. Project Treble is making updates easier by separating the underlying vendor implementation from the core Android framework. This modularization allows platform and vendor-provided components to be updated independently of each other. While easier and faster updates are awesome, Treble’s increased modularity is also designed to improve security. A Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) provides an interface between device-agnostic code and device-specific hardware implementations. HALs are commonly packaged as shared libraries loaded directly into the process that requires hardware interaction. Security boundaries are enforced at the process level. Therefore, loading the HAL into a process means that the HAL is running in the same security context as the process it’s loaded into.[…]

https://android-developers.googleblog.com/2017/07/shut-hal-up.html

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