Google to improve protection against malicious apps, bad developers in Play Store

New policies helped Google suspend 65 percent more apps in 2018

Google Play Store

Google says that it has and will continue to improve the systems it uses to protect the Play Store and prevent malicious apps and bad actors from getting on the market in the first place.

A recent blog post from Google Play product manager Andrew Ahn outlines how the company fought bad apps and malicious developers throughout 2018.

For one, Google introduced several new policies through 2018 to protect users from new abuse trends, detect and remove malicious apps faster and stop more malicious apps from entering the Play Store.

As a result, the number of rejected app submissions rose by more than 55 percent. App suspensions also increased by more than 66 percent.

Additionally, Google says its Play Protect system now scans over 50 billion apps on users’ devices each day to make sure installed apps aren’t behaving in harmful ways.

The search giant says apps installed from Google Play are eight times less likely to harm a user’s device than Android apps from other sources.

Looking forward, Google wants to focus on protecting user privacy by cracking down on apps that violate Play’s privacy policies. Further, the search giant is developing new policies to preserve user privacy, such as its recent restriction on how apps can use the SMS and call log permissions.

Google is also working to fight malicious developers. The company says 80 percent of severe policy violations come from repeat offenders and abusive developer networks. Often, when Google bans developers, they create a new account or buy developer accounts on the black market to come back to Play.

As such, Google says it’s enhancing its ‘clustering’ and ‘account matching’ technologies and combining them with the expertise of human reviewers prevent spammy developers from getting apps on the Play Store.

Finally, Google is working to apply more advanced machine learning models in finding suspicious apps. Additionally, the search giant says it conducts static and dynamic analyses, uses user engagement and feedback data and leverages human reviews to find bad apps.

Despite all this, in the first few months of 2019, several malicious apps were spotted on the Play Store. From ‘beauty camera’ apps that stole photos and pushed pornographic ads to a cryptocurrency malware that stole money by redirecting user’s wallet addresses, Google Play had several significant app issues. Google needs to do more to combat malicious apps and developer abuses.

Source: Android Developer Blog