Despite the fact that Google has never explicitly prohibited users Android from downloading software from anywhere, it has always positioned Google Play as the most secure app directory of all. The company's explanation was pretty straightforward: Google has a team of censors who thoroughly check all programs that enter the directory, and software algorithms do additional checks. As a result, all software from Google Play can be considered as safe and risk-free as possible. So, at least, Google always assured us. But this turned out to be not entirely true.
Google Play is not as secure as it seems
Researchers at the cybersecurity research company Upstream found that the number of malicious apps on Google Play has been growing at a rapid pace lately. If in the first quarter of 2019 their total number was approximately 14.5 thousand, then in the first quarter of 2020 they were counted in the region of 29 thousand. That is, in just a year there was a twofold increase, which even for Android, which could never boast of advanced protection, is quite a lot to write off as an error.
Google security is a farce
Most malware spreads through Google Play
The increase in the number of malicious applications on Google Play has led to a natural increase in infections among smartphones under control Android. According to Upstream, over the past year, their number has increased by 7%, reaching 11.2 million. This is a rather dangerous trend, considering that Google regularly publishes summaries of progress in the fight against malware on Google Play, regularly improving censorship efficiency and reducing the number of infections year-on-year.
It is significant that 9 out of the 10 most popular malicious programs are from Google Play, experts concluded. They have passed a two-step security check by Google, which involves verification by live people, and then by software algorithms. That is, contrary to Google's assurances that viruses for Android are mainly spread through independent channels, it is the search giant's directory that plays a big role in infecting most smartphones.
Viruses on Google Play
Most of the malware that spreads through Google Play is classified as entertainment software. These can be applications for listening to music, watching videos, reading news, and even playing games. It is they, as practice shows, that give the highest conversion. That is, to put it simply, if attackers hide malicious scripts in entertainment applications, the likelihood that they will be downloaded increases several times. For this reason, many of these apps can have total downloads of up to and above the million mark.
How to identify a virus on Google Play
Finding a malicious application on Google Play is quite simple
Is it possible to protect yourself from malicious apps if they hide on Google Play? Of course you can, and it's not difficult to do it.
- First, you need to carefully review app reviews. Despite the fact that cybercriminals often cheat them, as a rule, negative ones will still slip through, and you will probably see them.
- Second, check the app description. Often, attackers do not bother with creativity at all, offering some incredible features like measuring temperature, pressure of regular updates Android or access to computer games from a smartphone.
- Third, watch out for the permissions the app is asking for. If the calculator asks for access to SMS, camera or phone calls, this should alert you and become a reason to remove such an application.
- Fourthly, pay attention to whether the application asks for any sensitive data, such as a login or password for a Google account, messengers, or bank login information.
By following these simple rules, you can provide yourself, your smartphone and your data with proper protection that antivirus software will not provide. After all, it is much easier to prevent the penetration of malicious software onto a smartphone than to become a victim of fraudsters and, after the fact, look for an application with malicious functionality.