Google revealed that it blocked more than 1.9 billion installations of Android malware from non-Play Store sources over the course of 2019.
On 11 February, Google revealed on the Android Developers Blog that it had succeeded in scanning billions of potential malware installations by creating a revamped Play Protect experience in 2019.
This built-in malware protection for Android devices now scans more than 100 billion apps a day. It uses the results of those scans to warn users about potential security issues and to provide users with information on how they keep their devices secure.
That being said, Google disclosed that its refreshed Play Protect system is just one of several initiatives it’s pursued to better protect Android users against malware in recent years.
Back in 2018, for instance, the tech giant released a policy designed to prevent apps from unnecessarily accessing Android users’ SMS and Call Log data. Many developers subsequently partnered with Google to comply with its policy, collaboration which resulted in a 98% drop in apps using SMS and Call Log data. (The other 2% use that information to perform their core functions, noted Google.)
The company also issued a policy in May 2019 around the goal of protecting families. It then worked with developers to update or remove tens of thousands of Play Store apps that violated its policy.
Finally, Google blocked 790,000 policy-violating app submissions before the programs ever became publicly available for download on the Play Store.
The tech giant recognizes that it still has work to do going forward. As it noted in its blog post:
While we are proud of what we were able to achieve in partnership with our developer community, we know there is more work to be done. Adversarial bad actors will continue to devise new ways to evade our detection systems and put users in harm’s way for their own gains.
Towards that end, the company said that it will continue to strengthen its app protection policies, improve the speed with which it can detect bad actors and broaden its ability to detect and remove harmful apps, including those that used a common code package named “Soraka” to perform ad fraud on users’ Android devices in 2019.