Google Removes Over 700,000 Malicious Play Store Apps in 2017

Google has revealed that researchers have removed over 700,000 ‘bad apps’ in 2017 alone, hinting at the massive problem of malicious applications having an easy presence in the world’s most widely-used mobile ecosystem.

In an announcement, Google confirmed it removed 700,000 ‘bad apps’ and stopped an additional 100,000 bad app developers from publishing their applications on Google’s Play Store. To put those numbers into contest, it’s a 70% jump from 2016.

As such, Google considers ‘bad apps’ as applications that install malware on targeted operating systems, steal data, copycats of legitimate apps or those that contain inappropriate content. In August 2017, Google introduced a long-overdue security feature called Google Play Protect as a means to curb the heightened threat of malicious apps continually making an appearance on the app store.

Google researchers wrote:

Finding these bad apps is non-trivial as the malicious developers go the extra mile to make their app look as legitimate as possible, but with the launch of Google Play Protect in 2017, the average annual PHA (potentially harmful applications) installs rates on Google Play was reduced by 50 percent year over year.

Google also revealed that new detection mechanisms meant 99% of apps with abusive content were identified and rejected before they were installed, underlining just how massive a target the Play Store and its userbase of over a billion is for malware developers.

Google says the use of machine learning models and techniques were used to curb such applications last year. “In 2017, we took down more than a quarter of a million of impersonating apps,” Google Play product manager Andrew Ahn added.

Image credit: Google Play.