Google announces “Bouncer” to tackle “potentially malicious software” in the Android Market

Ian Hardy

February 2, 2012 4:04pm

Smartphones have a great deal of data which make them a prime target for hackers who want to lace it with malware. A few Android apps have been subject to this, but Google has a way to combat this issue. Today they’ve announced a new service they developed called “Bouncer”. On their mobile blog Google has written that Bouncer automatically scans developer accounts and the Android Market for “potentially malicious software without disrupting the user experience”.

Apparently this has already been in testing for a while now, but publicly announced today. Google said they have noticed the number of malicious apps in Market decreasing, specifically claiming a 40% reduction during 2011. Google noted that “While it’s not possible to prevent bad people from building malware, the most important measurement is whether those bad applications are being installed from Android Market”.

Here’s how it works: once an application is uploaded, the service immediately starts analyzing it for known malware, spyware and trojans. It also looks for behaviors that indicate an application might be misbehaving, and compares it against previously analyzed apps to detect possible red flags. We actually run every application on Google’s cloud infrastructure and simulate how it will run on an Android device to look for hidden, malicious behavior. We also analyze new developer accounts to help prevent malicious and repeat-offending developers from coming back.

Android is becoming more popular everyday. It’s estimated that the Android Market has about 400,000 available apps and has seen over 11 billion app downloads. In addition, Google confirmed a couple weeks ago that 700,000 Android devices get activated everyday. So with these powerful numbers it’s good to see Google taking this issue seriously… because the last thing they need is something to ruin Android’s momentum.

Source: Google Mobile Blog

  • c

    way to bounce back Google!

    wow i feel lame for that.

  • radapple

    Just what the doctor ordered! Good move!

  • Spartacustomer

    I’m I the only one who feels that this is the rebirth of Windows vs Mac? In this case Android OS represents Windows…
    I remember how the big knock on windows was it’s malware\virus susceptibility, and how you couldnt get a virus on a Mac, this is when Norton Doctor and McCafee started to be bought by the masses….

    • Brad F

      Thankfully the Android versions of Norton and McAfee will be free (with ads).

    • jonny

      Apple can have viruses too. There is nothing stopping someone from writing a virus for a mac. For some reason, people tend to not write many for macs…

  • shaggyskunk

    So now malware Bounces off Android, and sticks to all Those BAD Apples.

  • jonny

    That is a really good idea, having the virus scanner on the marketplace. Saves me from having to waste battery on a phone virus scanner.

  • Silly String

    There are a couple of differences:
    MAC vs PC – there is a huge adoption for PC compared to MACs (I know the numbers are shifting a little, but MACs are still a niche market). Thus there is more interest in creating malware for a platform that has more reach. No malware on MAC is a myth – look it up. It’s just not as known, and when people have an issue with their MAC, the nearest Apple store will get it fixed and maybe never tell them if they had a virus.

    iPhone vs Androids, one is a locked environment, one is open. However, if this Bouncer will do its job properly, it may become less and less rare to get malware on a droid. That being said, I never had malware installed on my phone because I don’t randomly install stuff. Similarly, you could get malware on the iphone if you jailbreak it and install 3rd party apps.

  • Ja Rule

    How about they announce when my Nexus S will be getting ICS… JUST KEEP IGNORING EVERYONE THAT’S BEEN ASKING ABOUT IT GOOGLE

  • mark

    Never experienced any problems with an android phone.

  • Spartacustomer

    @Silly String
    Totally on board with everything you guys said, I was speaking more towards what the “perception” was in the early 90’s… The same people who lineup for a cell phone, would believe that Mac’s don’t get Viruses. So PC had the kind of software to alter the believe that you would automatically get a Virus for owning a PC.

    • Adam

      “the believe that you would automatically get a Virus for owning a PC.”

      Sad thing is people actually believe this.

      You don’t get a virus if you are careful on the internet. If you go clicking and downloading everything, then yeah, it’ll slow down and get viruses. If you think about and scan your downloads, you’ll be fine.

  • Jesse

    Bout time. I can’t count how many times I got spam in my notification bar from some misleading app. Too little, too late for me but I’m glad they’re taking off in the right direction…..just took them a while.

  • Hugh

    If your wooried bout viruses get yourself a Iphone or Blackberry. Androids are netourous for being open source and open to viruses. Blackberry’s and Iphone’s are very secure.

  • Hugh

    And Google is so easy going on apps, they allow anything on their App Market, as appose to Blackberry and Iphone which are strict to what goes onto their App Markets.

  • ref

    I’ve been using Avast free on my Nexus S.
    So far, so good. Reviewed and compared to 7 others on another site here:

  • Domingo

    Worst virus I’ve ever had is called Itunes.

  • Mike

    I’d be willing to bet that Norton has got people working on viruses right now so they can sell their overpriced, buggy products.

    FDA keeps people sick to sell expensive drugs, Antivirus companies keep viruses coming to sell crappy antivirus software.

  • Rio

    @Adam @Silly String.

    I completely agree with you, as a tech person it is very hard to infect my PC. I don’t even have a virus scanner, just a firewall and it runs smooth as ever.

    However, you have to keep in mind that 90% of the population, does not have the knowledge we do or is capable of understanding.

    These are the people that believe that Macs can’t get a virus and for the most part it is technically true cause there aren’t any being written.
    The one time the Mac was threated with malware, apple put a lid on that quickly.

    Also keep in mind, it is easier to write a virus for windows than Mac.