In 2017, AI tackled malicious apps and developers trying to get away with bad deeds on the Google Play Store. Image: Compfight

Google has been developing detection models of malware and repeating offenders on the Google Play Store. Even if the malware developers were to create new accounts, the system would detect and ban them again. Around 100,000 developers were banned in 2017.

Early in 2018, Google took down 70% more apps than in 2017. Google claimed in a blog post that 700,000 malware and policy-violating apps have been taken down from the play store, not only banning apps but also the developers themselves. The firm also claims that 99% of the malware was identified and removed before even being installed by anyone.

Andrew Ahn, Google Play’s product manager “While the majority of developers have their audience’s best interest at heart, some bad apps and malicious developers do attempt to evade detection and enter the Play Store to put people and their devices in harm’s way.”

Malware abundance in Google Play

The main reason for the copycat and malware apps targeting the Google Play Store is given to its global reach and accessibility, which makes the platform a target for many developers both good and bad.

In response to the malware development, Google deployed “teams of engineers, policy experts, product managers, and operations professionals who constantly monitor the store and incorporate feedback from the user community to protect people from misleading, inappropriate, or harmful apps.”

Policy and app security

Google Play in comparison to Apple’s App store has had much more relative freedom regarding the content developed in apps until recently. This has made it a target for malware developers.

Google’s policy, however, forbids any “inappropriate content” that could include pornographic content, illegal activities of any kind, and extreme violence that could encourage hate or intolerance.

It seems as though Google is escalating towards becoming a more secure platform for users, the Apple store has been known to be a safe guaranteed marketplace. The company has developed a malware detector named Google Protect, which is by now the most used smartphone scanner in the world.

The program is one of Google’s attempts at machine learning and other techniques in order to detect malware apps before they even appear on the Play Store. It employs the long before used static analysis technique to detect malicious codes in apps and added to the machine learning it allows finding a wider range of apps.

Dave Kleidermacher said that “We have this fantastic technology and it works 99.99994 percent of the time, but it’s never perfect.”

Source: Google