The project aims to reduce reliance on foreign operating systems in smartphones and promote the use of locally developed technologies

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Published: Wed 25 Jan 2023, 09:07 PM

A new mobile operating system focusing on privacy and security has been developed by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Madras. BharOS is an Indian government-funded project to develop a free and open-source operating system (OS) for use in government and public systems.

The project aims to reduce reliance on foreign operating systems in smartphones and promote the use of locally developed technologies.

What are its features?

BharOS comes with no default application (NDA). This means that users are not forced to use applications they may not know or trust. Additionally, this approach allows users to have more control over the permissions apps have on their device, as they can choose to only allow apps they trust to access certain features or data on their device.

According to Karthik Ayyar, Director of JandK Operations Pvt Ltd. – the start-up that developed this mobile operating system – BharOS offers “Native Over The Air” (NOTA) updates that can help secure devices. NOTA updates are automatically downloaded and installed on the device, without the user needing to manually initiate the process. This ensures that the device is always running the latest version [version of the] operating system, including the latest security patches and bug fixes. With NDA, PASS and NOTA, BharOS ensures that Indian mobile phones are trustworthy.”

BharOS provides access to organization-specific Private Application Store Services (PASS) applications. A PASS provides access to a curated list of apps that have been thoroughly vetted and have met certain organization security and privacy standards. This means that users can be confident that the apps they install are safe to use and have been checked for any potential security vulnerabilities or privacy issues.

Who uses this system?

BharOS services are currently provided to organizations that have strict privacy and security requirements and whose users manage sensitive information that requires confidential communication on restricted applications on mobiles. These users need access to private cloud services through private 5G networks.

Who created it?

The BharOS was developed by JandK Operations Private Limited (JandKops), which was incubated by IIT Madras Pravartak Technologies Foundation – a Section 8 (non-profit) company established by IIT Madras. The Foundation is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, under its National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NMICPS). It aspires to put India on par with the few countries that currently possess these capabilities.

Addressing a press conference on January 19 to announce this Indian mobile operating system, Prof. V. Kamakoti, Director of IIT Madras, said, “BharOS service is a mobile operating system built on a foundation of trust, with a focus on providing users with more freedom, control and [the] flexibility to choose and use only the applications that meet their needs. This innovative system promises to revolutionize the way users think about security and privacy on their mobile devices.”

“IIT Madras looks forward to working closely with many other private industries, government agencies, strategic agencies and telecom service providers to increase the usage and adoption of BharOS in our country,” he added. .


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