Would you allow your car stereo to run USB debug mode on your android phone?

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curmudgeon
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Would you allow your car stereo to run USB debug mode on your android phone?

Post by curmudgeon » Sat Aug 11, 2018 1:30 am

So I swapped in a new aftermarket stereo into my 10-year old pickup. It's a cheap, off-brand unit from China purchased via Amazon. Works pretty well and adds backup camera, bluetooth phone, and navigation capability. It also, in theory, supports screen mirroring from my phone, which would be nice. The issue is that it doesn't do this via the newer Android Auto support. Instead it wants to do the setup by connecting a USB cable and enabling usb debug mode on the phone. While I don't do banking, or payments, or much other sensitive stuff on my phone, it does have access to my email accounts and gets used occasionally with credit card numbers for uber/lyft and a few other similar uses.

While the debug access is most likely innocuous, my instinct is to just go without this particular feature, as debug modes can be pretty wide open in what they can do, and I'm not sure I want to give that access to some random developer in China, even via the car stereo. But I haven't really looked at the issue in depth (this is Android 7.0); maybe I'm being paranoid.

Thoughts?

123
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Re: Would you allow your car stereo to run USB debug mode on your android phone?

Post by 123 » Sat Aug 11, 2018 1:41 am

Sometimes it's good to be paranoid.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

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JoMoney
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Re: Would you allow your car stereo to run USB debug mode on your android phone?

Post by JoMoney » Sat Aug 11, 2018 2:55 am

curmudgeon wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 1:30 am
... debug modes can be pretty wide open in what they can do, and I'm not sure I want to give that access to some random developer in China, even via the car stereo ...
:thumbsup
I'm certain I wouldn't want to ;)

I'm of the opinion that these things are largely distractions and not compatible with safe driving (automobiles are the number one killer of young people, and the numbers don't go down for older people - it's just that heart disease and cancer catch up). Turn-by-turn GPS navigation is nice, but it's also useful to exercise your mental abilities to navigate. I don't think we fully understand the physiological and psychological impacts of not making regular use of our faculties.
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rotLobster
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Re: Would you allow your car stereo to run USB debug mode on your android phone?

Post by rotLobster » Sat Aug 11, 2018 6:55 am

i do some android programming on the side. i plug my smartphone into my computer and use debug mode to 'debug' code. im scratching my head trying to figure out why an application would want to do that (your car stereo). once hooked up this way, the stereo will have full access to your phone and everything on it. its how the cops 'examine' your phone. its what apple is blocking with its newer code (the ability to use debug on a phone to get around password access with warrant-less searches).

basically, i would not allow this feature.

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sunny_socal
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Re: Would you allow your car stereo to run USB debug mode on your android phone?

Post by sunny_socal » Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:12 am

I run ALL my Android phones in 'debug' mode. Why? Without it they aren't seen as a USB drive. I'd have no hesitation using Debug mode in any car and I've done so for years. (BTW, I stream the audio via BT not USB)

Marylander1
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Re: Would you allow your car stereo to run USB debug mode on your android phone?

Post by Marylander1 » Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:20 am

sunny_socal wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:12 am
I run ALL my Android phones in 'debug' mode. Why? Without it they aren't seen as a USB drive. I'd have no hesitation using Debug mode in any car and I've done so for years. (BTW, I stream the audio via BT not USB)
Exactly. You used to be able to plug in a USB cable, authorize the access, and have access to files on the phone. Now you have to pretend you want to develop software just to transfer files between your phone and another device:
See "Networking" under https://developer.android.com/studio/debug/dev-options

I guess it's more "secure" to lock this down since apparently many people don't even know how to transfer files. I use it all the time.

Marylander1

curmudgeon
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Re: Would you allow your car stereo to run USB debug mode on your android phone?

Post by curmudgeon » Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:32 pm

Marylander1 wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:20 am
sunny_socal wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:12 am
I run ALL my Android phones in 'debug' mode. Why? Without it they aren't seen as a USB drive. I'd have no hesitation using Debug mode in any car and I've done so for years. (BTW, I stream the audio via BT not USB)
Exactly. You used to be able to plug in a USB cable, authorize the access, and have access to files on the phone. Now you have to pretend you want to develop software just to transfer files between your phone and another device:
See "Networking" under https://developer.android.com/studio/debug/dev-options

I guess it's more "secure" to lock this down since apparently many people don't even know how to transfer files. I use it all the time.
That's a useful link. I don't have a problem with using debug mode to transfer files from my pc, under my control. The question is how much remote command execution/modification control I'm giving to a 3rd party. Some debug modes are pretty innocuous, just enabling more logging output or the like. Other types of debug mode can effectively be like giving root control; ability to install drivers, and read/modify any contents. Knowing the background of android, but never having messed with the internals myself, I could see either possibility.

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