Google removed 700000 malicious apps from the Play Store in 2017

31 January, 2018, 10:50 | Author: Sergio Cook
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"While small in volume, PHAs pose a threat to Android users and we invest heavily in keeping them out of the Play Store", Ahn said.

So, what does that mean?

Any number of malicious apps sneaking through the cracks is nothing to be sniffed at, but at least Google is catching many more bad actors than it has in previous years. Machine learning enabled Google to eliminate 99 percent of apps with abusive content before anyone was able to download them.

Google claimed it was able to do this "through significant improvements in our ability to detect abusive app content and behaviors - such as impersonation, inappropriate content, or malware - through new machine learning models and techniques". These new methods helped the company in taking down of 100,000 bad developers in 2017 and made it more hard for bad developers to create new accounts and attempt to publish yet another set of bad apps. In even better news, 99 percent of the apps that were taken down from the Play Store in 2017 were removed before anyone managed to download them from the store.

Copycats: Apps that attempt to deceive users by emulating a popular app. Google says more than 250,000 of the 700,000 targeted apps were copycats. The impersonators carried out this practice through deceptive methods such as "confusable unicode characters or hiding impersonating app icons in a different locale". Google also said that a lot of apps with inappropriate content were removed, including those with pornographic material, hate, and illegal activities. Human reviewers then jump into the scene, with tens of thousands of apps removed in the past year.

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Last year, Google put all of its malware scanning and detection technologies under the umbrella of Google Play Protect.

Google is also trying to control the potential damages caused by the apps installed from the third-party app stores. When you look at 2016, there was about a 70 percent increase in the apps removed between 2016 and 2017.

Google is leaving no stone unturned to make the complete Android ecosystem more secure and safe for users. Potentially Harmful Applications are those that try to get your personal information. According to Google, that's just a drop in the bucket compared to the 700,000 it booted from the Play Store in 2017. A few years ago, apps were trying to trick you into installing other apps, for example, while that isn't really an issue anymore today.

The battle over clean, non-malicious apps on Google Play is a never-ending battle that Google is constantly finding new ways to address.


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