Did You Download a Bad Android App in 2017? Google Removed More than 700,000 Last Year!

February 19, 2018 •

malicious apps

Not all Android apps are created equal. Some are developed by ethical, responsible people, while others are the product of criminal hackers who are bent on stealing data and money from unsuspecting smartphone users. Other hackers create Android apps that help them use other people’s devices to wage massive denial of service attacks.

If you managed to escape 2017 without downloading a bad app to your Android, you can thank artificial intelligence at Google for helping keep the device safe from hackers.

Artificial Intelligence Helps Google Weed Out Malicious Apps

Google is improving the way it detects harmful apps thanks to artificial intelligence. They are discovering signs of abuse “through new machine learning models and techniques,” according to Google Play product manager Andrew Ahn, who was quoted in a recent article in The Verge.

Safeguards put in place by Google resulted in the company removing more than 700,000 apps from its Google Play Store in 2017. This represents an increase of 70% from bad apps that were removed from the store in 2016.

What’s more, Ahn noted that Google was able to identify and reject 99% of apps containing abusive content before any end users could install them on their smartphone. The problem stems from an underground culture that thrives on creating copycat apps to fool innocent and unsophisticated users.

A criminal will make an app for Android that looks like a legitimate popular app, but it will turn out to be inappropriate for the Google Play Store. This is due to it containing objectionable content including hate speech, extreme violence and other illegal activities.

Other apps are deemed to be “potentially harmful applications” by Google and its AI army. Such PHAs include Android apps that try to steal a user’s personal information, deliver malware in disguise or even send out fraudulent text messages while the Android owner is unaware.

Protecting Your Android

Protecting your Android device from malicious apps is easier when you confine your downloads to official sources, such as the Google Play Store. You should also consider protecting your smartphone, physically, by mounting it in a secure table stand, instead of holding onto it while you are in the middle of a task that requires your attention.