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Pre-rolled stripped, hardened Copperhead Androids hit Oz, NZ

Flash for free or pick up a Nexus that's ready to roll

Antipodeans can now buy secure, if pricey, Nexus 5x and 6P phones running the lauded hardened Android operating system dubbed "Copperhead".

The stripped-down and fortified Copperhead operating system is an open source effort led by the developer duo James Donaldson and Daniel Micay.

Launched in April last year, Copperhead aims at significantly raising the effort required to exploit Android.

"The point of it is to increase the amount of resources an attacker needs to expend ... to the point where hopefully they will just give up," says Donaldson in this video.

The developers have so far maintained regular updates for their Nexus 5 and 6p ROM, even beating Google and all other vendors to patch the Quadrooter vulnerability by harvesting the fix straight from a Qualcomm out of band update, and implementing advanced security features not yet in the latest vanilla Google operating system.

Their firm formed in 2014 and served Canadian legal and intelligence industries. The pair later noticed the dearth of secure and open source ROMs. Secure phones like Circle's BlackPhone don't share their code.

The operating system does not permit Google Play - Donaldson calls it a "Pandora's Box" - to avoid the chance Copperhead devices could be compromised by malicious apps, and instead uses the F-Droid security-focused store.

Donaldson says it's teamed with NCrypt to allows users and enterprises in Australia and New Zealand to buy the pre-rolled Copperhead phones, avoiding an otherwise more difficult flashing process.

"(NCrypt) are a shining example of a pro-privacy organisation in a world that seems to unfortunately increase intrusive surveillance day-by-day," Donaldson says. ®

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