Android Scripting Environment Both Awesome & Frightening

This announcement from Google…

Introducing Android Scripting Environment

…probably has a lot of people excited about the Android smartphone platform. This scripting environment supports two well-known dynamic languages: Python (one of my personal favorite languages) and Lua. It also supports something I had not heard of before: BeanShell. BeanShell interprets scripts written using the Java language.

So, the good thing about this announcement is that Android now can use powerful scripting languages that can do powerful things with the phone like start apps, access sensor information, scan bar codes, use text-to-speech features, send text messages and make phone calls.

Here’s what is frightening about this announcement: Android now can use powerful scripting languages that can do powerful things with the phone like start apps, access sensor information, scan bar codes, use text-to-speech features, send text messages and make phone calls.

Note that the Android-based T-Mobile G1 allowed itself to be turned off by typing S-H-U-T-D-O-W-N from anywhere on the system before its firmware was patched for this bug. Giving scripts low-level access to a phone’s features can lead to all kind of mischief. Some will be malicious. But, many more problems will probably arise simply from sloppy coding.

Many past security issues were related to scripting languages with low-level access to the workstation (PC) or server. Microsoft’s Visual Basic for Microsoft Office and Javascript come to mind as two big ones.

It wouldn’t surprise me if ASE leads to both wonderful Android apps and giant headaches.

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