GrapheneOS Rabbit Hole

Tyron Love

In my last post on this tiny blog I confessed that my iPhone got stolen and I purchased a dumbphone. I'm happy to report that I'm still using my Punkt MP02 and I love it, despite the Signal app (called Pigeon) not working. Punkt's support assured me they're deploying an update to fix this soon, so I will be able to send secure messages to those friends who haven't bothered to give me a call because talking on the phone is TOO HARD!

I'm the curious type and like to research stuff that interests me... a lot!

So, while scrolling through my dumbphone's settings (because there's nothing else to scroll through) I noticed the operating system was called Aphy. Intrigued I walked all the way from my bedroom to my home office to do a Google search and found that the Punkt MP02s operating system is called AphostrophyOS which after some more digging I found out was a commercialised fork of an open source operating system called GrapheneOS. Down the rabbit hole I go!

GrapheneOS is a private and secure mobile operating system with Android app compatability. It's a non-profit open source project and I think it's awesome!

It' awesome because it's an oxymoron of gigantic proportions.

Android as an operating system is not secure, apps on the platform have access to a ton of your data by default and Google (who owns Android) is the inventor of surveillance capitalism so the words "private" and "Android" are at odds here.

GrapheneOS allows you to install apps from the Google Play Store and by default GrapheneOS secures your phone by limiting app access to your data and allowing you to choose what data apps have access to. Finally, you can have a smartphone that is truly private and secure.

Currently, GrapheneOS only permits its operating system be installed on Google Pixel phones, which are the most secure phones from a firmware point-of-view, how's that for irony!

I was also interested to learn that a lot of the security features GrapheneOS has pioneered has been forked over to the Android OS which is actually really cool and in the spirit of open source.

For those readers mildly interested in one of my new obsessions here's a short-ish video on YouTube by a weird-Russian-sounding-hacker-guy (I've timestamped the link to the relevant part).

And, for those who want to dig a bit deeper into mobile privacy and security here's a long interview on YouTube with a GrapheneOS developer by the weird-Russian-sounding-hacker-guy. I highly recommend it.

Now, the question is will I be giving up my dumbphone for a Google Pixel phone with GrapheneOS installed?

Stay tuned.