As we enter the fourth month of 2019, Google has released its fifth Annual Security & Privacy Year in Review report for 2018. This report addresses the state of the Android ecosystem and the vulnerabilities and threats faced by the platform. It also addresses how Google’s new features have affected the privacy and security for its users. Google said that it will publish regular such reports and it will become more transparent for the users. The key highlight of the report was Google Play Protect that addresses the risks, detection of harmful applications and updates on the company’s vulnerability rewards programme.
The Google Play Protect of Android scans over 5,00,000 apps every day using Google’s machine learning techniques in the cloud. And now Google has enabled this process as default in all the new Android devices. The search giant said that India was ‘by far the biggest market’ for Android devices adding that the Indian market has become 35 percent cleaner the previous years. Google said that only 0.65 percent of Android devices are affected by the PHA issues in India.
According to the technology giant, India is one of the biggest targets for the Trojan with 22.4% risk, and it is followed by Germany with 6.5% risk. In 2018, around 0.007% of all the apps were infected with Trojans which was an increase from 2017. Google’s findings state that the most commonly used trojan is the Idle Coconut family which effects the devices by turning them into endpoints for commercial VPN providers. The users of the device don’t even know of this and it happens without their consent.
Some of the apps which forced the user to download other apps were also the cause of concern. In India, there were around 18.9% of such apps and threats occurring with the users of the Android devices. The downloaded third-party apps come with fake app stores which are designed to spread malware, and they lack the proper security. Similarly, SMS fraud is also one of the major concern field in terms of Android security as it comprises 0.003% of Google Play app installs and 6.8% of PHAs.
Google said that its Pixel devices had no security flaws in 2018 which makes it the safest of the devices. Google also rewards the security researchers and enthusiast (outsiders) who detect the security flaws and potential threats in platform. Once found, it removes the threat which in turn strengthens the security of its platform.