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Indian Institute of Technology, Madras Develops Secure Mobile Operating System

A company incubated by the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-Madras) has developed an Indigenous Mobile Operating System that could potentially benefit the one billion phone users in India, a press statement by the Institute has said.

The system, BharOS, can be installed on commercial off-the-shelf handsets. It provides a secure environment for users and is a significant contribution towards the government’s Self-Reliant India (Atmanirbhar Bharat) Mission. It offers native over-the-air (NOTA) updates that can help keep the devices secure. NOTA updates are automatically downloaded and installed on the device, without the need for the user to manually initiate the process. This ensures that the device is always running the latest version of the operating system, which includes the latest security patches and bug fixes. With NDA, private app store services (PASS), and NOTA, BharOS ensures that Indian mobile phones are trustworthy.

BharOS provides access to trusted apps from organisation-specific PASS. A PASS provides access to a curated list of apps that have been thoroughly vetted and have met certain security and privacy standards of organisations. Users can be confident that the apps they are installing are safe to use and have been checked for any potential security vulnerabilities or privacy concerns, the statement wrote.

BharOS services are currently being provided to organisations that have stringent privacy and security requirements and handle sensitive information and require confidential communication through restricted apps on mobile devices. Users also need access to private cloud services through private 5G networks.

The BharOS was developed by a company incubated by IIT-Madras Pravartak Technologies Foundation. The Foundation is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), under the government’s National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NMICPS).

According to an official from IIT-Madras, BharOS is built on trust, with a focus on providing users more freedom, control, and flexibility to choose and use only the apps that fit their needs. The innovative system will revolutionise the way users think about security and privacy on their mobile devices.

IIT-Madras will work closely with private industries, government and strategic agencies, and telecom service providers to increase the usage and adoption of BharOS. BharOS comes with no default apps (NDA). This means that users are not forced to use apps that they may not be familiar with or that they may not trust. This approach allows users to have more control over the permissions that apps have on their device, as they can choose to only allow apps that they trust to access certain features or data on their device.

The IIT-Madras Pravartak Technologies Foundation is a Section 8 Company hosted as a Technology Innovation Hub (TIH) by IIT-Madras on Sensors, Networking, Actuators, and Control Systems (SNACS). It focuses on new knowledge in SNACS through extensive and application-oriented research and prepares students for the next generation of world-class technologies. The primary activities include technology development, entrepreneurship development, human resource development, and international collaboration. It provides an ecosystem for technology development and deployment.

IIT-Madras Pravartak has seed funded 15 companies so far, and some are in the advanced stages of negotiations with venture capitalists and angel investors. Apart from entrepreneurship development, the foundation works on skill development. To date, the foundation has trained about 4,000 professionals. With its outreach activities, it has started around 50 rural interaction centres and 5 rural technology centres spread across Tamil Nadu to provide quality education for rural students.

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