2.28 Million Rogue Apps Blocked By Google

John Lister's picture

Google says it blocked 2.28 million potentially malicious apps from getting into the official Play store last year. It stopped or paused a further 200,000 which didn't correctly use the permissions system.

The figure for malicious app blocks is up almost half compared with 2022. Google didn't say conclusively whether that means more scammers are trying their luck or if it simply did a better job of detecting them.

However, it did note the 2023 figure was "in part thanks to our investment in new and improved security features, policy updates, and advanced machine learning and app review processes."

Some Developers Are Victims

Google also tightened up security for software development kits that make it easier for developers to build Android apps. In some cases these kits can contain malware, turning legitimately built apps into security risks without the developer's knowledge.

According to Google, it also did a more effective job of vetting app developers, including asking for more identity information. It also banned 333,000 developer accounts either because they repeatedly violated policy or because they were confirmed to have spread malware. That's up from 173,000 the year before.

Google will likely hope the figures show the importance of using the official Play Store rather than taking advantage of Android's open source nature which makes it relatively easy to install apps from other sources.

That's in contrast to Apple, which historically has not allowed apps from other sources on iPhone and iPads though was recently forced to relax its position in Europe.

Post-Infection Questions

While the new Google figures cover apps it blocked before they got into the store, much of the criticism about its security has involved apps that did get past the checks. Google's usual position on discovering an app is malicious is simply to delete it from the Play Store. That means no new users can download it and existing users cannot update or reinstall it.

However, existing users can continue to use the malicious app and will usually only find out about it from tech media or other users rather than getting an official warning.

What's Your Opinion?

Is the rise in blocked apps a good or bad sign? Do you trust apps in the Play Store to be safe? Does Google have the right balance between open choice and security compared with Apple?

Rate this article: 
Average: 5 (4 votes)