Google has confirmed some brilliant news about malware in its Play Store
It’s been a rough few months for Android phone and tablet owners who have been bombarded with warnings of new apps that have infiltrated the Google Play Store in order to try to steal sensitive information, install malware, or charge exorbitant subscription costs behind users’ backs. Research has shown that 35,000 more malicious apps managed to worm their way into the Play Store last year, compared with 2018.
But there is finally some good news for those who prefer to use the Google-built open-source operating system. Google has managed to significantly reduce the number of apps that abuse permissions to siphon more data from your device than you’d ever want to hand over.
In a new post on its Security Blog, the Mountain View-based company has detailed how it fights malicious apps on the Play Store and revealed it managed to reduce the number of apps accessing call log information and SMS chat history by 98 percent in 2019.
And what about the remaining 2 percent of apps? Well, those are apps that really do require access to your call and text data – like WhatsApp, for example – to perform their tasks, Google says.
It’s a stunning result and shows the work that Google has been doing in Android, like the introduction of more granular controls over data permissions in Android 9.0, are having the desired impact. It’s also proof of the sheer number of apps once widely available in the Play Store that abused their privileges to be able to read and analyse your call data and text messages – a troubling thought for anyone who has used Android for a while now.
Android alert: 1.5 billion users at risk from apps designed to keep your phone safe
Android 10 brought a truckload of new granular permissions to control your data
The US search firm also used its latest report to highlight “improved vetting mechanisms” which helped the company stop 790,000 policy-breaking apps from reaching the Play Store. An update issued in its May 2019 policy update that required all developers to state whether their apps were targeted at kids also helped to crack down on nefarious apps.
Android 10 provides even more control over data permissions. However, the latest mobile operating system is likely only running on a small fraction of Android devices worldwide. Google has yet to unveil the figures, but Android Pie, its predecessor, is only running on 10.4 percent of all devices.
Despite all the work from Google, we’re still seeing dangerous apps popping up in the Play Store. So, it’s worth proceeding with caution. As always, check the name of the developer and try to avoid anything you don’t recognise, or which doesn’t have any reviews. It’s also worth looking at the number of installs on the app listing to make sure it’s not suspiciously low.