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Built-in malware scanner for Android on the way?

by Mark Tyson on 15 October 2012, 12:00

Tags: Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), PC

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Mobile malware is increasingly “popular” as people’s lives are more and more entwined with the contents of their smartphones. There’s a lot of valuable data on the average smartphone. Google’s Android OS has had its fair share of malware attacks, actually you could say more than its fair share. This is partly due to the openness of the Android app downloading/installing system and the huge number of Android devices out there. On top of that there are accusations that Google hasn’t done enough to stem the flow of malware into the Android ecosystem. Now Sophos and Android Police have discovered a new Google initiative; it is planning on implementing a built-in malware scanner in the Play Store APK.

Android Police have uncovered the following text strings in the latest available version of the Google Play Store APK;

  • Allow Google to check all apps installed to this device for harmful behavior? To learn more, go to Settings > Security
  • Installing this app may harm your device
  • Installation has been blocked
  • To protect you, Google has blocked the installation of this app
  • Google recommends that you do not install this app
  • To protect you, Google has blocked the installation of this app
  • I understand that this app may be dangerous
  • Verify apps?

The above strings show two types of scanner behaviour; a retrospective scan of apps that are already on your phone or have been installed other than from Google Play, also a gatekeeper style protection system stopping downloads of suspicious files. Google still offers the flexibility for users to say “shut up and download it” according to Android Police.

Anti-malware related icons found within the APK

On the server side Google implemented Bouncer to try and prevent malware getting into the market and it looks like this new Google Play functionality on the client side will help tighten things up for users and it will be built into a future Android OS 4.1+.

In the Google Play Android app store there are lots and lots of anti-malware apps to choose from already. I’ve been quite happy with the highly rated Comodo Antivirus Free as it seems to work without being too intrusive in any way and without slowing down my old single-core Android.

HEXUS Forums :: 2 Comments

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Say goodbye to quite a few clock cycles. It's Windows all over again.
Say goodbye to quite a few clock cycles. It's Windows all over again.
That's a bit “doom and gloom” isn't it? After all there's nothing to insist that you put anti-malware s/w on. After all, some folks operate Windows in that manner and seem to get on okay. Personally though, I'm lazy, so I'm happy to have McAfee to blame. ;)

Second thing, like the writer, I'm running Android anti-malware (AVG paid in my case) and most of the time it's invisible. Even on my donkeys old single core SE X10, (on the Galaxy S3 that replaced the X10 I never even notice it).

Personally speaking, anything Google want to do to make it easier for a user to apply security controls suits me.