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Rahul Thadani
Google Play Store may soon get a built-in malware scanner
October 15, 2012

Google intends to release a future update to its Google Play Store that will provide client-side protection from malware present in malicious applications. This malware scanner will analyze an application when a user attempts to install it on an Android device. If there is a known strain of malware present in the application, the user will be notified about the same and the installation process will be stopped.

The APK for this malware scanner was studied by a research team at Android Police and this is a welcome step in the right direction for the security of Android users. The APK contains an initiative known as ‘App Check‘. This initiative scans all previously downloaded applications on a device and warns the user about any recognized threats, if found. Apart from this, the core protection feature of the APK actively scans for malware as an application is being installed.

Google currently employs the use of Bouncer to study various applications in the Google Play Store. However, this is a server-side protector and it does not provide protection against an application that is already installed on a device, or is in the process of being installed. Once the speculated client-side process is initiated, an Android user will enjoy enhanced protection from the many security hazards of the platform.

While this is a notable step by Google, it is one that may not make much difference. That is because most malware that spreads through malicious apps, does not reach a device through the Google Play Store. Rather, it reaches the device through third-party sources and unofficial Android markets. The process of installing apps from unofficial sources is known as ‘Sideloading‘ and this feature can be turned ON/OFF by the user at any time. It is still unknown whether this initiative from Google will scan applications that are installed through such sources.

This makes it imperative to install effective mobile phone security software on any Android device. Malicious apps are one of the most potent threats to this platform and the ability to install apps from any source makes the OS even more vulnerable. In-built security features from Google are a helpful addition, but one must not underestimate the need for a mobile security suite to complement this.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Rahul Thadani
About Rahul Thadani
Rahul is a web enthusiast and blogger, and has been writing about the computer security industry for the last three years. Following the latest technology trends,...
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5 Comments

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  1. Hi Rahul,

    It is really good to hear the above news and Thank you for the informative posts.

    – while google play scans my download and installation mean while the antivirus installed in my android phone will also be doing the same. Will it affect the performance of my device anyhow?

    – This Malware scanner needs to be installed or will be scanned automatically by google play app like how yahoo/rediff scans our attachment.

    Bala

    Reply
    • Hi Bala,
      The Google Play scanner will not affect your device performance nor will it interfere with the antivirus installed on the smartphone. As of now it is not clear if this malware scanner will need to be installed separately. It is highly likely that the apps will be scanned automatically. We will provide an update when this information becomes available.
      Regards.

      Reply
  2. Hi Rahul,

    Many thanks for clarifying the points.

    Bala

    Reply
  3. Dear Rahul,
    Thanks for sharing the initiative taken by Google to take care of malwares downloaded while installation of apps through Google Play Store.
    Please let me know:
    *Whether this scanner will get installed separately on device?
    *If yes, then will it get conflicted with scanner of other pre-existing AV?

    Regards,
    Tek.B

    Reply
  4. Thanks alot rahul by updating the post of Google play with inbuilt scanner

    please update us about the enhancements and upcoming techniques embedded into it.

    Reply