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Google’s New ‘App Defense Alliance’ to Tackle Malware Problem

Dominique Adams

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malware

Google has partnered up with external companies to beef up its Play Store security to rigorously scan apps before they go live. 

Google has announced that three cybersecurity companies, in addition to its own in-house system, will now scan all new apps uploaded to the Google Play store.

The tech giant said it had brought in the extra support because the volume of apps being uploaded was too much to handle alone.

Security companies Zimperium, Eset and Lookout will work together on what Google has named the App Defense Alliance (ADA). According to Google, the purpose of ADA is to quickly find and eliminate potentially harmful applications before they are published.

The alliance will see the company integrate its Google Play Protection detection systems with each of its partner’s scanning engines. While the apps are queued to be published, the three other companies will “act as another, vital set of eyes prior to an app going live on the Play store.

ADA will work off extensive databases of known malware, behavioural clues and machine-learning models of novel threats. Its scanners will look for trojans, adware, ransomware, banking malware and phishing attacks.

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“On the malware side, we haven’t really had a way to scale as much as we’ve wanted to scale,” Dave Kleidermacher, Google’s vice-president of Android security, told Wired magazine.

In the past, the Google Play store has been plague by malware, which due to the open flexible nature of the Android ecosystem has meant all too frequently diseased apps have been able to easily circulate on the platform. With over 2.5 billion Android devices worldwide third-party app stores, like Google Play, are attractive targets for abuse.

Malicious adware, subscription fraud, SIM jacking, credential scraping are common threats facing Android users when they download a possibly tainted app. Speaking to Forbes cyber security expert Ian Thornton-Trump commented: “Google has a reputation and public trust issue.

“The Play store is a mess of malware-infected applications, which in some cases have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. Putting malware aside, the other issue which needs addressing is excessive app permissions. Installing some lame app should not hoover up all the data, contacts and pictures on a phone— if it does without a good reason, then that app should be banned as well.”

 

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Dominique Adams

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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