While there are plenty of positive associations that people have when they think of Android – like freedom of choice and more affordable phone options – there are at least a few areas where Android’s rep isn’t so strong. Fragmentation is one of these aspects, but equally big is the issue of security. Android critics often lambaste the OS for its perceived security issues, and it’s true that malware has been an issue for the platform over the years – technically.
The reality is that this issue has been mostly overblown and it is extraordinarily rare to encounter malware and other major security issues for users that stick to reputed sources for apps like Google Play, and who avoid shady-looking 3rd party app markets. Nonetheless, Google has been working to improve its efforts (and reputation) on the security front in a number of ways over the last few years. This has led to the introduction of continuous app scanning for malware, monthly security patches, better protecting Chrome users from unsafe websites, and much more.
Last year, Google also released its first “Android Security Annual Report”, giving us an even more detailed look at Android security and Google’s measures to better improve it. Now the latest edition of the report has arrived, looking back at 2015.
The full report goes into much greater depths to explain Android Platform Security, Google Security Services for Android, some of the most noteworthy PHAs (potentially harmful apps) and more. However, the biggest takeaways from the report is that Google now scans more than 400 million devices per day for security threats (totaling over 6 billion installed apps), has protected hundreds of millions of Chrome users from unsafe websites with safe browsing, and that out of all the devices that used Google Play as their sole source of apps, under .15% of the devices ended up installing a PHA. The figure jumped up to .5% for those devices with Google Play that also use other sources.
Here’s a few other interesting tidbits reported by Google in regards to apps that were installed from the Google Play store:
- Data Collection: decreased over 40% to 0.08% of installs
- Spyware: decreased 60% to 0.02% of installs
- Hostile Downloader: decreased 50% to 0.01% of installs
Those who want even more details might want to check out the full report, but the bottom-line here is that Google continues to dramatically improve security and the priority it places on it. As long as there are 3rd party app stores that aren’t monitored, there will continue to be malware, but the average user can rest assured knowing the odds of these PHAs ever affecting their own devices are pretty slim.
What do you think of Android’s current state of security? I’ve personally never had an issue, but what about you?