Sunday, April 18

Google Play Store is the largest distributor of malware on Android devices: Study

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By sheer numbers, Android is the most popular operating system in the world and that of course means that the most apps and app downloads are also on Android. However, like all things with huge numbers, quality and security are hard to control.

The massive quantities of app downloads on Android devices means that malware and viruses will slip in every now and then, no matter how much Google tries to keep it clean. A new research from NortonLifeLock and IMDEA software institute in Madrid have corroborated this fact and have stated that the Google Play Store has been found to be the biggest distributor of malware on Android smartphones.

Published on the SemanticsScholar website, the study reveals that the Google Play Store accounts for 67.2% of the malicious app installs on Android phones and this is due to the sheer volume of downloads from the Google Play Store.

Researchers at NortonLifeLock and IMDEA have recorded data from 7.9 million apps from 12 million Android smartphones over a four month period to arrive at their research results.

The study is titled ‘How Did That Get In My Phone? Unwanted App Distribution on Android Devices’, and it states that third-party app stores account for only 10.4% of malicious app installs. The study also points out that 10 to 24% Android users come across at least one unwanted app download.

The study compared downloads from the Play Store with those from alternative markets, web browsers, instant messages, pay-per-install (PPI) programs and seven other sources. It was found that 87.2% of the total app downloads on Android come from the Google Play Store and 67.5% of malicious app installs are also from the Google Play Store.

However, this does not mean that the Google Play Store allows unsafe apps to be on the store or that its safety measures are not strict enough. The study points out that the Play Store VDR is only 0.6%, which is better than all other distribution vectors. “Thus, the Play market defenses against unwanted apps work, but still significant amounts of unwanted apps are able to bypass them, making it the main distribution vector for unwanted apps,” the researchers said.

The research also added that alternate app markets account for a total of 5.7% downloads, out of which, 10%were unwanted installs. Further, installs from backups account for 2% of the total installs, out of which 4.8% were unwanted installs. For package installers, the total downloads came at 0.7%, with 10.5% unwanted installs.