Android 14 and updatable root certificates: why it matters

Vincent Ronca

Google has always led the development of Android, the well-known operating system that animates most of the smartphones in the world. After the public release of Android 13 on the horizon let’s see Android 14.

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Android 14 will not arrive before the middle of next year in beta version, for a release of the stable expected between the end of the summer and the beginning of next autumn. In the last hours exper found some interesting news that could be on topic safety with Android 14.

These innovations consist in the implementation of the updatable root certificates. This is particular relevance and to understand why it is necessary to understand what we are talking about.

Simply put, root certificates consist of security certificates provided from websites, apps and web content that interact with Android smartphones. These certificates allow the Android device to log in securely the content to which they refer. For example, for a website, this will be marked as unsafe if it does not provide the required security certificate.

This certificate delivery mechanism is done by means of third-party bodies that certify the correct encryption of the contents, and of the encryption used for the data that is exchanged with the Android device. Every Android device comes with the memorization of these certificates within a registry in the internal memory.

This log is consultable also by the end user, as you can see from the screenshot belowand has the goal of make access faster to previously visited content, apps or websites.

The introduction of updatable root certificates would make much simpler the management of the issue relating to the modification of a certificate. Currently, if a certificate is modified it means that a new one will have to be acquired for correct access to the content to which it refers. In other words, Android currently treats a modified certificate like a new certificatei.e. not updatable.

This implies problems in terms of timesas the deletion of the old certificate and the acquisition of its new version it may take some time and cause disservices data from the inability to access the service connected to the certificate.

Updating root certificates currently requires a software update via OTAnot very fast as a process.

With support for updatable root certificates, however, it would be possible to issue certificates updates via the Play Systemin a manner faster. We will come back to update you as soon as we know more about their implementation in Android 14.


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