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HomeCyber SecurityHow we fought dangerous apps and dangerous actors in 2023

How we fought dangerous apps and dangerous actors in 2023


A secure and trusted Google Play expertise is our prime precedence. We leverage our SAFE (see under) ideas to offer the framework to create that have for each customers and builders. This is what these ideas imply in observe:

  • (S)afeguard our Customers. Assist them uncover high quality apps that they will belief.
  • (A)dvocate for Developer Safety. Construct platform safeguards to allow builders to give attention to development.
  • (F)oster Accountable Innovation. Thoughtfully unlock worth for all with out compromising on person security.
  • (E)volve Platform Defenses. Keep forward of rising threats by evolving our insurance policies, instruments and know-how.

With these ideas in thoughts, we’ve made current enhancements and launched new measures to proceed to maintain Google Play’s customers secure, even because the menace panorama continues to evolve. In 2023, we prevented 2.28 million policy-violating apps from being revealed on Google Play1 partially because of our funding in new and improved security measures, coverage updates, and superior machine studying and app overview processes. We now have additionally strengthened our developer onboarding and overview processes, requiring extra id info when builders first set up their Play accounts. Along with investments in our overview tooling and processes, we recognized dangerous actors and fraud rings extra successfully and banned 333K dangerous accounts from Play for violations like confirmed malware and repeated extreme coverage violations.

Moreover, nearly 200K app submissions had been rejected or remediated to make sure correct use of delicate permissions resembling background location or SMS entry. To assist safeguard person privateness at scale, we partnered with SDK suppliers to restrict delicate knowledge entry and sharing, enhancing the privateness posture for over 31 SDKs impacting 790K+ apps. We additionally considerably expanded the Google Play SDK Index, which now covers the SDKs utilized in nearly 6 million apps throughout the Android ecosystem. This invaluable useful resource helps builders make higher SDK decisions, boosts app high quality and minimizes integration dangers.

Defending the Android Ecosystem

Constructing on our success with the App Protection Alliance (ADA), we partnered with Microsoft and Meta as steering committee members within the newly restructured ADA underneath the Joint Growth Basis, a part of the Linux Basis household. The Alliance will help industry-wide adoption of app safety greatest practices and tips, in addition to countermeasures in opposition to rising safety dangers.

Moreover, we introduced new Play Retailer transparency labeling to spotlight VPN apps which have accomplished an unbiased safety overview by way of App Protection Alliance’s Cell App Safety Evaluation (MASA). When a person searches for VPN apps, they’ll now see a banner on the prime of Google Play that educates them concerning the “Unbiased safety overview” badge within the Knowledge security part. This helps customers see at-a-glance {that a} developer has prioritized safety and privateness greatest practices and is dedicated to person security.

To raised shield our clients who set up apps outdoors of the Play Retailer, we made Google Play Defend’s safety capabilities much more highly effective with real-time scanning on the code-level to fight novel malicious apps. Our safety protections and machine studying algorithms study from every app submitted to Google for overview and we have a look at hundreds of indicators and evaluate app conduct. This new functionality has already detected over 5 million new, malicious off-Play apps, which helps shield Android customers worldwide.

Extra Stringent Developer Necessities and Pointers

Final yr we up to date Play insurance policies round Generative AI apps, disruptive notifications, and expanded privateness protections. We are also elevating the bar for brand spanking new private developer accounts by requiring new testing necessities earlier than builders could make their app obtainable on Google Play. By testing their apps, getting suggestions and guaranteeing all the things is prepared earlier than they launch, builders are capable of carry extra prime quality content material to Play customers. So as to improve belief and transparency, we’ve launched expanded developer verification necessities, together with D-U-N-S numbers for organizations and a brand new “Concerning the developer” part.

To offer customers extra management over their private knowledge, apps that allow account creation now want to offer an choice to provoke account and knowledge deletion from inside the app and on-line. This internet requirement is very necessary so {that a} person can request account and knowledge deletion with out having to reinstall an app. To simplify the person expertise, we now have additionally included this as a characteristic inside the Knowledge security part of the Play Retailer.

With every iteration of the Android working system (together with its strong set of APIs), a myriad of enhancements are launched, aiming to raise the person expertise, bolster safety protocols, and optimize the general efficiency of the Android platform. To additional safeguard our clients, roughly 1.5 million functions that don’t goal the newest APIs are not obtainable within the Play Retailer to new customers who’ve up to date their units to the most recent Android model.

Wanting Forward

Defending customers and builders on Google Play is paramount and ever-evolving. We’re launching new safety initiatives in 2024, together with eradicating apps from Play that aren’t clear about their privateness practices.

We additionally not too long ago filed a lawsuit in federal court docket in opposition to two fraudsters who made a number of misrepresentations to add fraudulent funding and crypto trade apps on Play to rip-off customers. This lawsuit is a important step in holding these dangerous actors accountable and sending a transparent message that we are going to aggressively pursue those that search to make the most of our customers.

We’re continuously engaged on new methods to guard your expertise on Google Play and throughout the whole Android ecosystem, and we stay up for sharing extra.

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