Google axed 700,000 malicious Android apps in 2017 — here’s why it’s good news

Google has revealed it removed a staggering 700,000 malicious apps from the Play Store in 2017, up 70% on the previous year’s total.

The figures reveal a worrying uptick in malware or copycat apps, but also shows Google is becoming increasingly adept at dealing with the problem.

Google says it was able to eliminate more than 99% of the offending apps before a single Android user was able to install them.

Google explains in a blog post: “This was possible through significant improvements in our ability to detect abusive app content and behaviours – such as impersonation, inappropriate content, or malware – through new machine learning models and techniques.”

Any number of malicious apps sneaking through the cracks is nothing to be sniffed at, but at least Google is catching many more bad actors than it has in previous years.

Google VP and Head of Security for Google Play Dave Kleidermacher told TechCrunch the chances of downloading a malicious app on Android are now 0.00006%. Those are pretty decent odds in this climate.

Google Play Protect

Google credited its AI tools, such as Google Play Protect, which have played a major role in catching a higher percentage of bad apps before they hit the Play Store.

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The firm added: “The improved machine learning models sift through massive amounts of incoming app submissions and flag them for potential violations, aiding the human reviewers in effectively detecting and enforcing on the problematic apps. Tens of thousands of apps with inappropriate content were taken down last year as a result of such improved detection methods.”

The company says it’ll keep striving for perfection, but as malicious actors get smarter and malware becomes even harder to detect, it’ll be impossible to stamp out bad apps completely.

Do you worry about Android malware? Do you think Google’s review processes are stringent enough? Let us know @TrustedReviews on Twitter.

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