In a major crackdown to counter malicious or bad apps, global tech giant Google has removed such 700,000 apps from its Play Store platform in 2017.
Google claims to have used machine learning to identify bad apps with identifiers like impersonation, inappropriate content, and malware to root out over 700,000 apps and 100,000 developers in 2017, which is a 70 percent jump from the previous year.
“In fact, 99 percent of apps with abusive contents were identified and rejected before anyone could install them,” claims the company on its Android Developers Blog.
The company also says it kept tens of thousands of such bad apps with inappropriate content (pornography, extreme violence, hate, and illegal activities) out of the Play Store.
Google had faced a major threat from “Copycats” apps, that attempt to deceive users by impersonating famous apps.
These Copycats apps sneak in impersonating apps to the Play Store through deceptive methods such as using confusable unicode characters or hiding impersonating app icons in a different locale.
Last year, Google put all of its malware scanning and detection technologies under the umbrella of Google Play Protect.
Additionally, Google has been working to create new detection models that can identify repeat offenders, even when those developers create new accounts.
Another threat is ‘Potentially Harmful Applications’ (PHAs) apps that attempt to phish users’ personal information, act as a trojan horse for malware, or commit SMS fraud by firing off texts without a user’s knowledge. Google claims PHAs are currently small in volume but research to remove them is being heavily invested in.
With the launch of Google Play Protect – Google’s malware scanning feature – at I/O 2017, the annual PHA installs have apparently gone down by 50 percent year on year, the company said.
Google Play Store apps’ recent controversies
Earlier this month, Google had removed 60 games from its Play Store after security firm Check Point uncovered a malicious bug that displayed porn ads in game apps, meant for children.
Some of the apps include those that have been downloaded over 1 million times, like Five Nights Survival Craft and McQueen Car Racing Game.
The California-headquartered firm did not openly mention names of any app this time. India, who has emerged as the second largest country after China in terms of app downloads in 2017, is indeed a vulnerable market as far as malicious apps are concerned.
Last month, the government of India had also issued a list of 42 apps that can be used as a cyber attack against the country. Worldwide famous apps such as Weibo, WeChat, SHAREit, Truecaller, UC News, UC Browser, BeautyPlus, NewsDog among others were on the list.