The drama around Huawei’s Google Play problem put a spotlight on the role that Android’s premier app store plays in the mobile ecosystem. It is the official source of Android apps and advertises advanced detection and removal of malware or malware-infected apps. Given coverage tech news, however, it’s clear there’s still room for improvement. That’s why Google has partnered with some mobile security companies to form the App Defense Alliance, promising to stop malware even before they have a chance to touch your phone.
Google is quite proud of how Android has reached more than 2 billion devices but that also means that its responsibility to keep those devices safe is even greater. Given the volume of apps that call Google Play Store home, Google has resorted to using automation and machine learning to perform security checks on apps. Machine learning, however, isn’t magic and it needs data to work on. Lots and lots of data.
That’s where Google’s new partners come in. Mobile security companies such as ESET, Lookout, and Zimperium have proven to be quite talented at discovering mischievous and unrelenting malware hiding inside apps and Android libraries. After all, they’re the ones that often break news about new malware that manages to get past Google’s security. While some might try to silence these reports, Google is turning them into allies for Android’s benefit.
What this alliance basically entails is that Google’s Play Protect system will integrate with these companies’ anti-malware tools. These tools, then, become additional data sources for Google’s machine learning system to learn about new malware strains or techniques that manage to escape Google’s security measures.
This App Defense Alliance will hopefully help improve the state of Android app security, which is admittedly a bit of a laughing stock especially when compared to iOS. It isn’t clear, however, what implications the alliance will have on privacy as the combined security apps and Google Play Protect could result in a treasure trove of data about users, too.