Traditionally, Android smartphone users have been more prone to installing malware through the official Play Store than their App Store counterparts. There is no denying that this was the case a few years ago, but now things have changed. According to Google’s 2019-in-review blog post, strengthened app safety policies, a better developer approval process, and enhancements to its machine learning detection system made Google Play Store the most secure it has ever been.
Thanks to these continuous efforts from Google to make using Android devices a safer experience, the Android marketplace recorded a 98% decrease in apps that access users’ SMS and call log data, with the remaining 2% applied to apps that require access to this information in order to execute their core functions. Google’s vetting team was also able to stop more than 790,000 policy-violating app submissions before they were even published.
What is Google Play Protect?
Google Play Protect is Android’s official built-in anti-malware software. Its primary task is scanning for malware and warning the user on potentially dangerous apps, however, it also acts a phone tracker in case the device is lost through Find my Phone. Its integration with Google Chrome also keeps users safe when surfing the web. It can detect malicious code on websites and provides the user with a warning.
Google Play Protect scanned more than 100 billion apps for malware everyday in 2019, a whole 50% more than its 50 billion figures in 2018.
The protection extends beyond simply scanning the Google Play Store apps. It also scans all apps on the user’s phone for malicious activity, regardless of where the app comes from. If something suspicious is found, the user is notified and recommended to get rid of the potentially malicious software. Google’s Play Protect mobile threat protection service blocked the installation of over 1.9 billion malicious apps downloaded from non-Play Store sources in 2019.
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