If there’s one thing that makes smartphones worthwhile, it is apps. Without apps, smartphones would not be able to do a number of things. However, not all apps are healthy for your smartphone. In a two-year long study that was conducted recently, it was found that 2,040 apps on the Google Play Store are harmful in some way. While some require permissions that they don’t really need, others come with malware.
The research was conducted by the University of Sydney and Data61 of CSIRO and it included around 1 million apps on the Google Play Store. It was then found that a large number of fake apps exist without malware, but still, they need permissions to access data that they don’t really need. If this is shocking to you, then you’ll be even more surprised to know that the list includes titles like Hill Climb Racing and Temple Run.
To process all the 1 million apps on Google’s Play Store, the researchers used neural networks and machine learning. The algorithm was designed to look for similar text description and icons. It scanned more than 10,000 most popular apps on Google Play Store and it was able to find 49,608 threats.
We should also mention that with the use of VirusTotal, around 7,246 of the apps were flagged as malicious and among these, 2,040 were spotted as fake and high-risk apps. In addition to this, 1,565 of the apps were found to be requesting at least five sensitive permissions and 1,407 embed third-party ads.
It is also worth adding that the apps that have been studied are also being removed and according to Google’s team, the number of rejected app submissions have increased more than 55% over the last one year. On the other hand, the suspension rate has gone up to 66%.
Speaking about the study, co-author Dr Suranga Seneviratne from the University of Sydney, “While Google Play’s success is marked on its flexibility and customizable features that allow almost anyone to build an app, there have been a number of problematic apps that have slipped through the cracks and have bypassed automated vetting processes.”
He further added, “Our society is increasingly reliant on smartphone technology so it’s important that we build solutions to quickly detect and contain malicious apps before affecting a wider population of smartphone users.”
This is not the first time that popular apps on Google Play Store have found to be malicious. There have been a number of times since the beginning of this year that the company has removed apps from its Play Store.
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