How Did Google Remove More Than 700,000 APPs from Play Store?

The strong increase in deleted malicious apps is due to artificial intelligence, reports Google Play product manager Andrew Ahn on Tuesday. The self-learning systems of Google are getting better at detecting malicious apps. According to Ahn 99 percent of apps with malicious content were recognized and rejected for someone who could install. The most popular category of malicious apps remains the ‘copycat app’. The appearance and name of popular apps should then entice users to install a malicious app. Last year more than 250,000 such apps were removed from the Play Store.

In 2017, Google removed no less than 700,000 apps from the Google Play Store. That is 70 percent more than the year before. This is largely due to machine learning. Product manager Andrew Ahn says the Google Play Store has become even more secure in the past year.

No one knows how many apps the Google Play Store exactly counts. According to estimates, the Google has more than passed the magic limit of 2 million. The success of the application store is to a large extent due to safety. Users who download apps, games, books, movies and other types of content from the Play Store assume that this is safe. And that’s true when we look at the most recent figures.

Andrew Ahn writes in a blog that Google removed 700,000 apps from the Google Play Store last year. These apps did not comply with the terms and conditions of the Play Store. For example, Google removed tens of thousands of apps that were guilty of showing, for example, pornographic material, violence, hatred and criminal activity.

Copycats

According to Ahn, many copycats were active last year. These are developers and hackers who emulate or imitate well-known apps in the hope that visitors install them instead of the original. Without being aware of it, they infect their smartphone with malware and try to capture private-sensitive information. About one in three malicious apps (250,000) belonged to this category. However, Google can not catch a single hole and managed to keep it all out of the Google Play Store.

If you hear this kind of numbers you might get the impression that the Google Play Store is a breeding ground for potentially dangerous and rogue apps, also known as PHAs. Ahn also does not deny that malicious parties have tried to infect smartphones and tablets of unsuspecting users with malware, but according to him they have not succeeded. Of all detected malicious apps, Google removed 99 percent before anyone had the chance to download and install them.

Machine learning

Dave Kleidermacher, the head of security at the Google Play Store, tells TechCrunch that the chance to get malware through the Play Store is ten times smaller than apps that you download from outside the app store. According to him, the chance that you get a malicious app through the Play Store is only 0.00006 percent. “That means we have great technology that does its job in 99.9994 percent of the cases,” said Kleidermacher.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning play an important role in the security of the Google Play Store, according to Ahn and Kleidermacher. Kleidermacher calls this technology a “breakthrough for detecting rogue behavior”.

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