Google won several battles against shady apps on Play store in 2018, but the war continues

google play store
(Google Play)

Google's Android mobile OS runs more than 80-percent of the billions of smartphones in the world, but unfortunately, it also attracts lots of bad actors to hoodwink users installing their apps on Play store and hurt them financially and also make ransom call in exchange of stolen personal information. Being a technology behemoth, Google, over the years has scaled up security to filter shady apps from entering the play store, but several have managed to slip through.

In 2018, Google waged a big battle against criminal app developers by bringing in machine learning techniques to weed out malicious applications and succeeded. If the company is to be believed, the app submission rejection increased 55-percent and app suspensions increased by more than 66-percent compared to the previous years. That's a big number for Play store, considering the fact it houses more than 2.6 million apps.

"In addition to identifying and stopping bad apps from entering the Play Store, our Google Play Protect system now scans over 50 billion apps on users' devices each day to make sure apps installed on the device aren't behaving in harmful ways. With such protection, apps from Google Play are eight times less likely to harm a user's device than Android apps from other sources," Andrew Ahn, Product Manager, Google Play, said on Android Developer Blog.

Going forward in 2019, Google says that the user privacy is their number one priority and has asked their app developers to limit their user permission requests to access personal information particularly SMS and call log details necessary for the service they provide. The company has also asked developers to make prominent disclosure to users of how they plan to use the former's information to serve them. It has plans to introduce more policy to restrict device access permission in 2019

In 2018, Google is said to have suspended thousands of apps having suspicious behaviour. During the study, it also detected that more than 80-percent of the known shady app developers are repeat offenders and they are known to slip through Play store security by creating new fake accounts or buy developer accounts on the black market in order to come back to Google Play.

Google has already begun using clustering and account matching technologies with human reviewers to improve the efficiency of detecting shady developers.

"In a continued fight against these types of apps, not only do we apply advanced machine learning models to spot suspicious apps, we also conduct static and dynamic analyses, intelligently use user engagement and feedback data, and leverage skilled human reviews, which have helped in finding more bad apps with higher accuracy and efficiency," Ahn added.