Privacy Guard is a built-in privacy management tool for use on CyanogenMod 11 (CM11), which aims to help you control the privacy and security of apps installed on your device. You can set preferences for each and every app installed. If you use the Xposed Framework then you might be familiar with the “App Settings” module, which does something similar. Both Privacy Guard and “App Settings” work very well. Learn more
Privacy Guard was originally updated into Android 4.3 App Ops. App Ops is a hidden app permission feature in Android 4.3 that was discovered in late August of last year (see link below). App Ops was going to allow users to disable app specific permissions after install. It was removed post Android 4.3 build. For further information about App Ops. Privacy Guard is now the “App Ops” of CM10 and CM11, so it looks like the CM guys may have used some of the code (without the source difficult to say 100%) from Google Android App Ops.
CyanogenMod have taken the lead and integrated App Ops so that users can individually switch on/off permissions for location, reading contacts and call logs, reading calendar and SMS/MMS permissions for each installed app. They also added a notifications feature (as well as a new ‘Advanced’ menu which allows quick access to the native App Ops user interface) which lets users know when they are using an app that has permissions blocked that it requires to run.
So if your app stops working, you can unblock each blocked permission to find the culprit. One nice feature is the quick reset button which in the event your Android device starts to play up you can disable Privacy Guard with just one click and return your device permissions back to default. Another cool feature which I believe will get some use from the mod community is the ability to pick and choose which apps start at device boot up. 🙂
The following assumes you have technical knowledge of using Mods and in particular CM11.
How to update your ROM and install Privacy Guard on CM11
- Update your ROM – make sure you are running CM11 in order to use Privacy Guard
- Go to > Settings > About phone > CyanogenMod Updates
- Next go to > Settings > Privacy > Privacy Guard – you will see your apps listed – tap the shield to enable/disable an app*
- Tick an option at the top of a list. Suggest you enable by default as this will stop ALL app permissions – giving you total control on what permissions your app are allowed to access
- TIP: Don’t forget to check the > Settings menu for the option to reveal native apps 🙂
- Usage stats – long press an app > options page will show detailed breakdown of each apps permissions. You can control these individually. More important for me is the app option that allows you to see the last time that permission was requested
- Most if not all apps permissions will automatically be set to “Allowed”. You can control for example whether an app has access to your location data – if so you can set to “Denied”
- Once you’ve done the above, you can go back to the main list of apps and tap > Advanced button in > Settings. You will now see a category view which is useful to look through groups of apps with similar problems
- Be aware of Auto-Start permission requests in “Bootup”. These are apps that will use your battery and monitor Wake up – useful to keep an eye on!
- Lastly, go to > Settings in App ops and make sure you tick > Show user apps & Show built-in apps. This will allow you to reset the allow/deny counters of each app if you are experiencing problems or want more control i.e. “Always ask”.
My tip with app permission control is to be cautious. I like to use “Always ask” which means I get to see what permissions an app is requesting. I can then decide which permissions to deny as I am using each app. This allows me to quickly identify if the app that has crashed is one I denied a permission request too. Another useful tip is if you don’t want apps tracking you, then deny the “Location” permission for all apps.
If you find you have lost control of what app permissions you have set, you can > Settings > RESET all your apps to default settings. 🙂
Further information on Privacy Guard you should read these recent posts: https://www.julianevansblog.com/2015/10/how-to-setup-and-manage-oneplus-one-privacy-guard.html
*WARNING: I suggest you don’t do this as standard practice as you might corrupt an app or worse, soft brick your device.