Following its impressive clampdown on bad apps on Google Play Store last year, the search engine giant has vowed to continue its crackdown in 2019. Focusing, they said on user privacy, developer integrity and harmful app contents and behaviour.
Last Wednesday Google reported that Play Store now scans more than 50 billion apps on users’ devices every day. It revealed that Play Store rejected 55% more app submissions last year than it had in 2017. And while Google didn’t reveal the actual number rejected it did say they had removed more than 700,000 apps in 2017.
In addition to identifying and stopping bad apps entering the Play Store, our Google Play Protect system now scans over 50 billion apps on users’ devices each day to make sure apps installed on the device aren’t behaving in harmful ways.- Blog Post: Google Play
Google said that it now demanded third-party app developers to be clear about how their apps collect and use sensitive user data. Thousands of apps had been removed that did not comply with this rule.
It found that a staggering 80% of malicious app developers were repeat offenders, sometimes working within a network group. Alongside human reviewers, Google now uses machine learning techniques to be more effective in their crackdown.
We know bad actors will continue to try to evade our systems by changing their tactics and cloaking bad behaviours. We will continue to enhance our capabilities to counter such adversarial behaviour and work relentlessly to provide our users with a secure and safe app store.- Andrew Ahn: Product Manager, Google Play
Ramping up its campaign, Google said that 2019 would see additional policies introduced for device permissions and user data, including combatting those repeat offenders. Google will focus on better screening for those who are rejected but who then create new accounts to continue uploading malicious content.
In addition, Google will work to enhance its capabilities to counter adversarial behaviour and vowed to continue providing users with a secure and safe app store.
While this is all welcome news and Google should be applauded for their campaign to rid us of bad apps. For the poor old user there is still no way to know if you can trust an app and whether protection is foolproof, especially in today’s ever evolving technological world.
But there are some tips to mitigate the possibilities of downloading a bad app. Experts say always get the app from a trustworthy source such as Google and Apple stores. Be mindful of app permissions and research the app or the company behind it. And, of course always make sure you install the latest software updates.