Android kiosk mode security: Should I be concerned?

Lizzie Warren

Oct 16, 2023

12 min read

Kiosk – it’s a term we’re all familiar with. But when we hear “Android Kiosk Mode Security ” many of us may be quick to dismiss it as someone else’s problem. After all, what could we possibly have to do with it? Well, before you brush it off, just hold on a minute!

If you’re not paying attention to Android kiosk mode security, you could be putting yourself and your business at risk. So, lets check out the potential weaknesses that cybercriminals could exploit in your Android kiosk devices and learn how to address them.

Lockdown your Android devices with Hexnode UEM

Why are kiosks a cyber target?

It all comes down to a famous saying: “The customer is king.” In today’s world, customers want things fast, personalized, and smooth. Whether you’re ordering food or buying tickets, you want them right away without any hiccups. That’s where kiosks come in. They make life easier for the customers. But guess what? Cyber-attackers have noticed these kiosks too!

When we use a regular computer, like a laptop, it’s usually well-protected. It has all sorts of security tools to keep it safe from cyber threats. But kiosks don’t always get the same level of protection.

Why? Because it can be expensive and tricky to give each kiosk a super-strong defense system. Also, these kiosks are often placed in far-off or spread-out locations. Ensuring their security can be a struggle.

So, what’s the result? Kiosks become attractive targets for cybercriminals. Here are some reasons why cyber attackers target kiosks:

  • Financial gain:

    Attackers may aim to steal payment card information or financial data from kiosk transactions to commit fraud or make unauthorized purchases.

  • Identity theft:

    Kiosks may collect personal information from users. Cybercriminals could use this data for identity theft or sell it on the dark web.

  • Data mining:

    Businesses often gather valuable customer data through kiosks, which attackers may exploit or sell for marketing purposes.

  • Ransomware:

    Cyber attackers might infect kiosk systems with ransomware, demanding a ransom from the kiosk operators to unlock the system and prevent disruption to business operations.

  • Network access:

    Kiosks are sometimes connected to larger networks. Attackers may target them as entry points to infiltrate and compromise the entire network.

This is why safeguarding kiosks against cyber threats becomes crucial to protect both user data and the overall security of organizations. After all, we don’t want our quick and easy kiosk experiences turning into security nightmares!

How do cybercriminals sneak into kiosk devices?

Cyber attackers employ various tactics and techniques to exploit vulnerabilities in kiosk systems. Some of the common methods used by them are as follows:

  • Malware injection: Cybercriminals may inject malicious software or malware into kiosk systems through USB drives, infected software updates, or compromised maintenance access. Once inside, this malware can steal data, record keystrokes, or disrupt kiosk operations.
  • Skimming devices: Attackers may physically tamper with kiosk hardware, such as card readers or pin pads, to install skimming devices. These devices are designed to capture payment card information when customers make transactions. The stolen data can then be used for fraudulent purposes.
  • Phishing attacks: Cybercriminals often employ social engineering techniques to trick kiosk users into revealing sensitive information. They may create fake kiosk interfaces or websites that mimic legitimate ones, luring users to enter their personal or financial data.
  • Brute force attacks: In cases where kiosk systems have weak or default passwords, attackers may use brute force attacks to guess login credentials. Once they gain access, they can manipulate kiosk settings, steal data, or disrupt operations.
  • Data interception: Attackers may intercept data transmitted between the kiosk and backend servers. This can occur if the communication channels are not properly encrypted, allowing cybercriminals to eavesdrop on sensitive information, including payment data and personal details.
  • Exploiting unpatched software: Kiosk operators may not always keep their software and applications up to date with the latest security patches. Attackers actively search for unpatched vulnerabilities that can be exploited to gain control of the kiosk.

How to resolve these kiosk security issues?

Addressing kiosk security concerns requires a combination of technical measures, vigilant management, and user education. Android kiosk mode security is something that you should be concerned about, but not scared! With the right security measures in place, you can ensure that your devices and data are safe. Here are some essential security strategies you might need to secure your service kiosk devices:

1. Password management:

  • Password policies: Implement strong password policies for kiosk systems. Encourage complex passwords and regular password changes to mitigate the risk of brute force attacks.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Enable MFA where possible to add an extra layer of security, making it significantly more challenging for attackers to gain unauthorized access.

2. App configurations and permissions:

  • Least privilege principle: Restrict app permissions to the bare minimum required for kiosk functionality. Limit access to system resources and sensitive data.
  • Regular auditing: Periodically review and update app configurations to ensure they align with security best practices.

3. Web content filtering for Browser Lockdown:

  • Content control: Implement web content filtering to block access to malicious or inappropriate websites. This helps maintain a secure browsing environment within the kiosk.
  • Website kiosk settings: Provide options to block file downloads and uploads, disallow JavaScript, and customize browser behavior to align with specific security requirements.

4. Control USB media:

  • USB whitelisting: IT administrators have the capability to implement type-based USB whitelisting. This can prevent unauthorized and potentially harmful devices from accessing the system, enhancing security and ensuring a controlled USB environment.

5. Control background apps:

  • Task manager: Regularly monitor and manage background processes and applications running on the kiosk. Terminate any unnecessary or suspicious processes.

6. Peripheral settings:

  • Peripheral lockdown: Configure peripheral settings to disable unused or potentially vulnerable hardware components. For example, disable unused ports or peripherals like CD/DVD drives. IT admins can prevent actions like disabling the power button, adjusting the volume, taking screen captures, shutting down the device, or any other actions that may compromise security.

7. Regular updates and patch management:

  • Software updates: Keep the kiosk operating system and applications up to date with security patches. Regularly check for updates and apply them promptly to address known vulnerabilities.

8. Security awareness training:

  • Proper education: Train employees responsible for managing and maintaining the kiosks in security best practices. Make them aware of potential threats and how to respond to security incidents.

9. Monitoring and incident response:

  • Security monitoring: Implement continuous security monitoring to detect unusual activities or intrusion attempts. Set up alerts and responses to mitigate threats in real-time.
  • Incident response plan: Develop and maintain an incident response plan that outlines steps to follow in case of a security breach. This helps minimize the impact of a successful attack.

10. Network segmentation:

  • Isolation: Safeguard your kiosk by isolating it from critical internal networks through the application of network segmentation. This prevents potential attackers from moving laterally through the network if the kiosk is compromised.

By incorporating these measures, organizations can enhance the security of their kiosk devices, protect customer data, and ensure a safer and more trustworthy user experience.

Mastering Android kiosk security with Hexnode UEM

Hexnode UEM’s Android kiosk mode security features offer a comprehensive solution to keep your devices and data safe. Whether you’re using the device in a retail store or a restaurant, Hexnode UEM can help you achieve peace of mind and keep your devices secure. Hexnode UEM offers a wide range of robust security features tailored specifically for Android kiosk devices, empowering your organization to:

  • Disable the power button
  • Disable system bars
  • Enable the status bar
  • Manage Wi-Fi on/off settings
  • Control Bluetooth on/off permissions
  • Synchronize devices with MDM (Mobile Device Management)
  • Display essential device and server information
  • Define user capabilities to modify device passwords
  • Automatically clear background apps when users exit the application
  • Customize kiosk exit settings

What does Hexnode UEM have in store?

Hexnode UEM offers different lockdown modes and features for Android kiosk mode. Let’s take a closer look at them:

What is Android kiosk mode?

Single app lockdown mode

A device operating in the single app kiosk mode is solely intended to run the specialized application while utilizing the bare minimum of device features. Even if the device is turned off or restarted, the app automatically starts, runs in the foreground, then relaunches. Kiosk mode thus ensures correct device usage while removing pointless user distractions.

Hexnode UEM supports this feature on:

  • General Android
  • Android Enterprise: Device Owner
  • Samsung Knox
  • Kyocera Business Phones
  • Custom ROM Devices
  • Android TV 4.1+

Multi app lockdown mode

The multi-app kiosk mode feature offered by Hexnode UEM allows organizations to restrict device usage to a limited set of applications that are essential for work purposes. By configuring the kiosk mode, only the necessary apps are accessible, giving complete control over device usage and ensuring they are used for their intended purpose. This approach helps organizations maintain security and productivity by limiting the risk of unauthorized app usage or device misuse.

Website kiosk

By using Hexnode, organizations can easily configure a Website Kiosk for Android devices to ensure users can only access approved websites. This is especially useful in environments such as museums where visitors require access to specific websites for additional information. There are three options available in this feature:

  • Hexnode Browser Lite is a single-tab browser that can open web apps added in both single and multi-app kiosk modes, as well as external URLs that have been whitelisted by the organization.
  • Hexnode Browser also provides safe browsing by limiting access to approved websites, allowing for either single or multi-tabbed browsing.
  • Apart from these, organizations can choose to use a different browser by selecting the “Another Browser” option.

If using a Samsung Knox device with customization SDK 2.6 or above, access to websites is limited to those that are whitelisted through the Web Content Filtering policy and accessed via the whitelisted browser. On other devices, enabling the “Another Browser” option allows for any website to be accessed while in kiosk mode.

The organizations can also configure advanced website kiosk settings for Android using Hexnode UEM. The advanced settings enable organizations to customize the web kiosk experience based on specific use cases. With these settings, the organization can also easily configure and manage the web app kiosk experience of end-users from a remote location. This feature is supported on Android 4.1+ and Android TV 4.1+

What is browser lockdown?

Digital signage display

The Digital signage kiosk feature in Hexnode allows for easier communication with people in public places such as airports and malls by transforming Android devices into screens for displaying images and videos in loops. With this feature, organizations can also customize their media files by adding custom background music, trimming or muting videos, and incorporating transmission speed and animations.

Hexnode enables IT admins to change or remove the display content anytime, providing greater flexibility. This feature is available for devices running Android 4.4+ and Android TV OS 4.4+ and supports various media file formats, including JPG and PNG for images, MP4 and Matroska (MKV) for videos, and MP3 and OGG for audio.

In addition to the features mentioned above, Hexnode’s Android kiosk mode security features also include Launcher, peripheral settings, kiosk exit settings, and background apps. The organization can change the appearance of the device’s home screen by using the Launcher feature.

The device’s peripheral settings help to customize device features including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and NFC. By using the Kiosk exit settings, you can manage how users leave kiosk mode and keep the device secure. Finally, the background apps feature helps to restrict the apps that run in the background. This will help to prevent unauthorized access to confidential information.

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Benefits of using Hexnode for Android kiosk mode

The potential security threats in a kiosk device are numerous and ongoing. However, organizations can take steps to prepare themselves and remain vigilant to overcome any obstacles that may arise. While there are many options available, Hexnode stands out with its unique benefits that help to minimize the risks. So, let’s take a closer look at some of these features now.

  1. Robust device lockdown: Hexnode UEM offers extensive device lockdown features, ensuring that kiosks operate only as intended. This minimizes the risk of unauthorized access and malicious activity, addressing concerns about financial gain, identity theft, and data mining.
  2. Comprehensive content control: With Hexnode UEM, you can control and restrict access to specific content, applications, and websites, reducing the exposure to potential security threats. This aligns with the need to restrict access and block unnecessary web pages to prevent attacks.
  3. Real-time monitoring and alerts: Hexnode UEM provides real-time monitoring and alerts for any suspicious activities or deviations from normal kiosk behavior. This proactive approach helps prevent ransomware attacks and ensures immediate responses to security incidents.
  4. Data encryption and secure communication: Hexnode UEM ensures the encryption of sensitive data on kiosk devices, making it challenging for attackers to steal or manipulate data. It also facilitates secure communication, safeguarding against data breaches and network infiltrations.
  5. Remote management and wipe: With Hexnode UEM, you have the ability to remotely manage and, if necessary, wipe kiosk devices in case of theft or compromise. This feature prevents unauthorized access and protects both user data and network security.

Locked down, but not secure?

Android kiosk mode security is a critical issue that demands our attention. But the good news is that with the right tools and strategies in place, we can avoid the pitfalls and keep our devices and data safe. The essential approach involves staying informed and watchful, continually identifying potential security weaknesses, and taking proactive actions to address them. So, let’s stay one step ahead of the game and keep our Android devices secure with Hexnode UEM!

Lizzie Warren

A lil clumsy and a whole lot smiley, I'll bump into you with a smile...

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