Many people, and especially those who are fans of the HTC devices, are complaining about Google’s security and they are more susceptible about how much malware can be found on Android or in the Google Play Store. Unfortunately, most of the reports don’t include all of the information that you’d expect. Stories about malware on devices often don’t mention what harm is actually caused and that most malware comes from side loading or devices without the Google Play Store. Also, stories about malware in Google Play don’t tend to include stats on how quickly Google removes malicious apps.
Until now, Google hasn’t talked about malware on Android because it did not have the data or analytic platform to back its security claims. But that changed when Google’s Android Security chief Adrian Ludwig reported that less than an estimated 0.001% of app installations on Android are able to evade the system’s multi-layered defences and cause harm to users. Google is now making an effort to quell these false claims, and recently released some graphics showing how hard it is to actually have malware damage in your device and infiltrate your secure information. The numbers get lower and lower as you pass through the multiple layers, as you can see from the graphic above. (Note that their numbers only include devices that have Google Play Services. All the phones without Google Play, such as those from China and Russia, are in more risk about malware).
Of course, you do still need to be careful. Especially if you are using an Android device that does not have a trusted app store on it (as any device that doesn’t have Google Play Services is at a higher risk) or if you have to rely on side loading to get your apps. But, it should be noted that even Google’s own data here is incomplete, because it doesn’t mention anything about malware that evades detection in the Google Play Store and makes it out onto devices.
Furthermore, Ludwig’s analysis indicates that Android malware is not a significant threat as has often been reported. Ludwig suggests that combining Google’s data driven approach, with the research efforts of the industry, will improve Android’s malware defences going forward.
Google’s security mechanisms have improved Android’s malware defences and provided Ludwig a platform for collecting and analyzing data from over 1.5 billion app installs. Google publicized its malware research results and explained its malware defence framework to invite industry review and broader participation. So, now we have only to be wait and see whether Google can make similar gains in Android security that it has made in market share or not.
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