Google removes 2,040 harmful apps from Play Store

Google might have implemented Play Protect and a variety of other measures to help users protect themselves from malicious apps, but it seems that harmful apps are still able to find their way into Play Store. The results of a new study conducted over the course of last two years are out, and they’re telling something which we have already heard before: the apps in Play Store are not completely safe!

Google Play Store Malware

Statistics of harmful apps removed from Play Store

The research we’re talking about was done by University of Sydney and Data61 unit of CSIRO. They included more than a million apps in their research and found that about 2,040 apps are harmful in one way or other. Some require permissions that they’re not supposed to require, while some others are malware. The relieving part of this story is that out of a million apps only 2,000 turned out as harmful. That’s about 0.2%. However, the concerning part is that many of the apps flagged as harmful are highly popular. You might already have heard about them: Temple Run, Hill Climb Racing, Free Flow, etc. The major findings of the study are as follows:

  • Total number of malicious apps:7,246
  • Fake and high-risk apps: 2,040
  • Number of apps that request sensitive permissions without actually needing them: 1,565
  • Apps with 3rdparty ad libraries: 1,407
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The apps were scanned with the help of neural networks and machine learning to detect duplicate descriptions, visually similar icons and other factors. That scanning revealed 49,608 potential threats. Then those apps were made to pass through the tools of VirusTotal to arrive on the findings which we’re discussing right now.

Now some fun facts – this study was partially funded by Google itself through its Faculty Research Awards. Others who funded the study include NSW Cyber Security Network and the Federal Government’s Defence Science and Technology Group. Google has said that the apps found in this research have already been removed, and the number of rejected app submissions in Play Store has risen more than 55% in last year. App suspension has also risen to 66% in the same year, according to Google. Let’s see how much effect these steps leave on the nature of apps available in Play Store!

Source: ComputerWorld Australia

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