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Google strengthens workspace security through the disabling of “Nearby Share” in Android Work Profiles

For Android users, the “Nearby Share” feature is the equivalent of Apple’s Airdrop, which is widely used for transferring files between devices. It has been a convenient tool for various purposes and was available on Android devices without any limitations, except for network restrictions.

However, in light of privacy and security concerns for workspace or business accounts, Google has decided to disable “Nearby Share” in Android Work Profiles. This move is understandable, as sharing company files openly between corporate and personal devices may raise issues for IT security professionals.

This concern becomes more significant as “Nearby Share” is being widely adopted, with support from devices like Chromebooks and even Windows. Unless work devices are strictly controlled or network administrators effectively manage the console by disabling Bluetooth and closing required ports on the Firewall, it can be challenging to monitor or prevent employees from sharing files within the organization or with external parties.

To address this concern, Google has chosen to disable Nearby Share in work profiles by disabling Google Play Services. This prevents the feature from appearing as an option within the work profile. In theory, this seems like a straightforward and effective solution to a complex problem. However, only time will tell if it proves equally effective in real-life situations.

These changes were implemented with Google Play Services version 23.41 on October 18th. Google has not provided any specific reasons behind this decision, leaving it unclear whether there will be alternative options to bypass these restrictions, other than uninstalling the work profile altogether.

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