In the next few weeks I intend to get a new phone. Currently, I am considering Sailfish OS on Sony Xperia 10 II or Graphene OS on Pixel 4a. Since I intend to use the phone as a sole daily driver, the device will need only to be stable, but also offer privacy and security. Therefore, I would like to hear a bit more about the security and privacy aspects of Sailfish OS. Since it may affect the responses, I will be forced to use ~5-7 android apps via Android VM if I opt for Sailfish OS.
After reading about both projects, there seem to be several areas in which Graphene OS has an advantage over Sailfish OS:
- The bootloader on Selfish OS on Sony devices cannot be locked so a malicious manipulation of the OS itself becomes possible. I understand that it requires a physical access to the device or can it be done online?
- Graphene OS does harden not online android, but also the kernel. Does Sailfish also harden kernels in any way?
- From the information that I managed to find, it looks like Sailfish uses outdated libraries, such as Qt or SSL. On the other hand, Graphene is based on the latest Android version and supports specific devices only as long as Google provides firmware for them as outdated firmware is a security vulnerability on its own. I understand that Jolla can provide software for many years for the supported devices, but does Sony keep updating firmware as well?
While Graphene OS does seem to offer better security in the above areas, Sailfish OS is more likely to benefit from security via obscurity as the majority of malware will focus on Android devices. I would still imagine that to be the case even if Android VM is used to run Android apps on Sailfish to some extent. Is that correct? How big protection does sandboxing offer for Android based vulnerabilities?
Due to a small number of users, I would expect that Sailfish OS is easier to fingerprint when browsing on the net as Graphene OS tries to appear as a standard Android device. The only connections that Graphene OS seems to be making to Google are for A-GPS. This seems to be a problem for all de-Googled Android based OSes. How does Sailfish OS do it as not an Android OS?
I understand that Sailfish OS and the apps don’t have trackers. However what are the privacy protection measures for android apps that may have trackers? Are the Android apps sandboxed from each other so that they cannot see what other Android apps are installed or does it only prevent them from tracking what happens on the Sailfish OS part of the system?
While it may seem like I highlight Graphene OS advantages over Sailfish OS, the reason for it is that Graphene OS emphasizes its security and privacy strengths so it is easier to verify whether Sailfish has comparable measures. On the other hand, while Jolla’s website mentions Sailfish OS as secure and private, the exact strengths in these areas areas not spelled out clearly for non-developers. In fact as a former N9 user, I really would like to shift away from Android environment even if it is de-Googled. However, since I intend to use banking apps, read emails and have other sensitive data on a device, I want to be sure that the device is really secure and privacy respecting. If there are some other aspects on which Sailfish OS shines on these 2 dimensions that I did not think about, I would love to hear about it.