Google is no stranger to questions about security when it comes to their Android mobile operating software, but Android devices may be moving on from their reputation of being more susceptible to cyberattacks compared to other mobile phones on the market.
On Wednesday (March 22), Google released its third annual Android Security Year in Review report, which detailed how the company is approaching the ongoing task of safeguarding the 1.4 million users of Android and their mobile devices.
“Our goal is simple: keep our users safe. In 2016, we improved our abilities to stop dangerous apps, built new security features into Android 7.0 Nougat and collaborated with device manufacturers, researchers and other members of the Android ecosystem,” the company said in a blog post.
The post went on to detail Google’s efforts to protect Android users from Potentially Harmful Apps (PHAs) by building systems to identify the threats and regularly check devices for these types of apps. When Google’s Verify Apps system detects PHAs, users are immediately notified with a suggestion that they reconsider downloading the app, or in some cases the app will be removed from the device entirely.
According to Google’s data, installs of PHAs from Google Play decreased in all 50 countries of the top 50 countries for Android usage. This was driven by Verify Apps performance of 750 million daily checks last year, up from 450 million in 2015.
“By the end of 2016, only 0.05 percent of devices that downloaded apps exclusively from Play contained a PHA, down from 0.15 percent in 2015. Still, there’s more work to do for devices overall, especially those that install apps from multiple sources,” the post continued.
Google also noted how the sharing of information between itself, device manufacturers and the security research community is aiding in making the Android ecosystem a safer place.
In 2016, more than 735 million Android devices from more than 200 manufacturers received a platform security update, significantly expanding Google’s monthly security updates program that was launched in 2015.