Google is fighting an uphill battle when it comes to
dangerous apps that try to work their way into the Android ecosystem, and the
company prevented 790,000 dangerous apps from being published on the Play Store
in 2019 alone.
The app ecosystem remains the primary means for malware
to attack mobile devices, and bad actors continually try to take advantage.
Even with all the precautions, some apps that might not qualify for malware
still fall through the cracks.
For example, Bitdefender has identified
apps that smuggled themselves into the Play Store, dodging Google vetting
systems and misrepresenting the breadth and scope of the ads they would
ordinarily present, had they been legit.
Google revealed some of the measures they took in 2018
and 2019 and shared information about how many apps it thwarted from publishing
and how many were removed from the store entirely.
“One of the best ways to protect users from bad apps is
to keep those apps out of the Play Store in the first place,” said
Google Play and Android App Safety Manager, Andrew Ahn. “Our improved vetting
mechanisms stopped over 790,000 policy-violating app submissions before they
were ever published to the Play Store.”
The company also explained that a much stricter policy
regarding to protect children and families implemented in 2019 forced developers
to update or remove tens of thousands of apps.
The entire Google Play Store performs over 100 billion
scans every day. With all that scrutiny, bad actors find new ways to obfuscate
their intentions with apps. At best, people install apps that deliver
innocuous, albeit annoying adware, but the same channels can be used to deliver
malware as well.
In 2020, Google aims to detect bad apps much faster than
it currently does, to better protect user privacy.