Google Bouncer Scanning Android Market For Malware

IT Management

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Are you afraid of malicious software on the Android Market? Google has you covered.

Today on the Google Mobile Blog, Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s VP of Engineering for Android, announced a new software system for Android phones called "Bouncer." It provides automated scanning of the Android market for “potentially malicious software without disrupting the user experience of Android market or requiring developers to go through an application approval process.”

Lockheimer goes into more depth as to how the new software works:

The service performs a set of analyses on new applications, applications already in Android Market, and developer accounts. Here’s how it works: once an application is uploaded, the service immediately starts analyzing it for known malware, spyware and trojans. It also looks for behaviors that indicate an application might be misbehaving, and compares it against previously analyzed apps to detect possible red flags. We actually run every application on Google’s cloud infrastructure and simulate how it will run on an Android device to look for hidden, malicious behavior. We also analyze new developer accounts to help prevent malicious and repeat-offending developers from coming back.

The good news is that the service has already been running for a while now searching for malicious software. Between the first and second halves of 2011, they saw a 40 percent decrease in the number of potentially malicious downloads from the Android market. He points out that the drop occurred at the same time that “companies who market and sell anti-malware and security software have been reporting that malicious applications are on the rise.” He wants to clarify that while that may be true, the number of malicious applications on the actual Android Market are way down.

Lockheimer takes the opportunity to remind users why Android is better than traditional PCs when it comes to dealing with malware. He points to the “sandboxing” technique used by Android devices that puts virtual walls between applications and other software on the device. Android devices also have a broad range of permissions that go down to an application requesting access to SMS to send texts. Finally, Android was designed so that malware can’t hide from the user so it can be easily removed.

Lockheimer ends the post by saying that Android will continue to improve its security. He invites the community to help them keep Android safe.

With this news, we can expect the Apple fanboys to stop lording their safer app store above us Android users, right?