Worried about hackers, China implements national smartphone OS

HTC cell phone with China Operating System (COS)A fascinating story showed up a few days ago about the Chinese Academy of Sciences building its own smartphone operating system that looks a lot like it’s based on Android but has some of its own features and, likely, tightened security options. In fact, China Operating System (or “COS”) is designed to run on a variety of devices including both smartphones and personal computers, according to the developers. Given that China is well known monitoring and filtering Internet traffic it’s not much of a leap to conclude that there are certain additional features baked into the system.

A year ago that might have been a shocking concept, an operating system for computers and smart devices that includes monitoring capabilities, but in a very strange twist, it seems like the US National Security Agency (NSA) got there first, reputedly injecting additional code into most of the devices sold in the United States so it can monitor usage and analyze patterns to identify terrorists, etc.

The NY Times reports: that in an article published by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the organization states that Android isn’t at the heart of COS because “existing open-source operating systems pose security risks, and foreign-made systems have ‘acclimatization’ difficulties in China, problems that COS addresses.”

Yes, there’s some irony at work here, a repressive government with its own teams of cyber-warriors concerned that operating systems from other nations post security risks, but then again, who better to know the weaknesses in a system than the very same organization that’s trying to crack into it in the first place?

Now that I think about it, perhaps it’s time for me to write my own operating system so I know that neither the NSA nor China are paying attention to what I’m doing. Hmm….

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