Google To Combat Malicious Apps With New Android Security Feature

Google To Combat Malicious Apps With New Android Security Feature

Android security always seems to be a hotly debated issue.

And while there is no shortage of articles that label Android as a honeypot for hackers, there are many security experts that come to Android’s defence.

The issue doesn’t lie with the operating system itself (Android as a platform is actually very secure), but rather the user.

The user ultimately has the final say on what to install and who to give permissions to, which necessitates a little bit of common sense.

Nevertheless, in an effort to help protect users from applications running malicious code, Google has announced it will be upgrading the Verify Apps function, one of the existing security features of the Android OS.

First launched in Android 4.2 (2012), Verify Apps instantly checks apps, installed from both the Play Store and third party sources, for anything that might compromise your phone.

If a potentially dangerous app is downloaded, a warning message will pop up on the screen notifying the user that Verify Apps has detected a threat or problem with the app and has blocked it from being installed on the phone.


Android security verify apps warning message

Source: google support

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Android security verify apps blocked installation warning message

Source: google support


Presently, Verify Apps runs silently in the background, only scanning any apps before installation.

To take this protection against malicious apps one step further, Google plans to update this feature so that it constantly monitors apps beyond their installation, ensuring each app remains safe.

To some, this update may appear to be unnecessary.  If the Verify Apps feature helps prevent anything dangerous from being installed, why do the apps deemed as ‘safe’ need constant monitoring beyond the point of download?

There are two reasons for this. Firstly, some apps could be carrying malicious code that isn’t initially recognised by the Verify Apps feature. Secondly, it’s possible for safe apps to be corrupted.  An app that appears to be safe could download malware through an external third party.

Through constant monitoring, Verify Apps can alert users to previously unidentifiable or subsequently downloaded malware.

While for most this added layer of security is very welcome, Verify Apps is an opt-out service, so users can disable it anytime.

The update will roll out to all devices carrying the Verify Apps function, essentially any device running Android 2.3 or higher, within the next few weeks.

According to Google, the upgrade will not require interference by carriers of manufacturers and will simply occur in the background as part of an update to Google Play Services. Most users won’t even know it’s there.

Android users can breathe a little easier knowing their phones are more protected than ever.