Google enhances Android protection with new app watcher

With awareness of security issues reaching new heights in the wake of the Heartbleed bug revelations  Google has released fixes it says allows users devices that run on its OS to feel safer about any apps they download.

The company  is adding a new security feature to the service layer for Android phones and tablets. The new feature is based on Google’s Verify apps, which protects users when they install apps outside of Google Play at time of installation. The new enhancement picks up from that point, continually checking devices to make sure installed apps aren’t misbehaving.

“In the last year, the foundation of this service—Verify apps—has been used more than 4 billion times to check apps at the time of install,” said Rich Cannings, Android security engineer in a posting on the official Android blog . “This enhancement will take that protection even further, using Android’s powerful app scanning system developed by the Android security and safe browsing teams.”

Cannings notes that this new layer of protection will be low visibility, and that most users won’t see any indication it’s even there, let alone an actual warning about application misbehaviour.

“We’ve found that fewer than 0.18 per cent of installs in the last year occurred after someone received a warning that the app was potentially harmful,” Cannings said. When warnings are generated, they will look very similar to the existing warnings generated by Verify apps.

The new security service complements foundational Android security features like application sandboxing, which confines apps, limiting their ability to damage other parts of Android devices.

Andrew Brooks
Andrew Brooks
Andrew Brooks is managing editor of IT World Canada. He has been a technology journalist and editor for 20 years, including stints at Technology in Government, Computing Canada and other publications.

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