Google Play Protect will now recommend a real-time app scan before sideloading

Google announced Wednesday that it is updating Play Protect with real-time scanning at the code-level to combat novel malicious apps installed out of Google Play. Google Play Protect will begin recommending a real-time app scan when installing apps that have not undergone previous scans, aiding in the detection of emerging threats.

When installing apps through sideloading, Play Protect already conducts real-time checks  and warns users when it identifies an app known to be malicious from existing scanning intelligence or was identified as suspicious from its on-device machine learning, similarity comparisons, and other techniques.

“To try and avoid detection by services like Play Protect, cybercriminals are using novel malicious apps available outside of Google Play to infect more devices with polymorphic malware, which can change its identifiable features. They’re turning to social engineering to trick users into doing something dangerous, such as revealing confidential information or downloading a malicious app from ephemeral sources – most commonly via links to download malicious apps or downloads directly through messaging apps,” Google says.

With the latest update, scanning will gather crucial data from the app and transmit it to the Play Protect backend infrastructure for a detailed code-level assessment. After the real-time analysis is finished, users will receive a result indicating whether the app appears safe for installation or if the scan has identified it as potentially harmful.

“This enhancement will help better protect users against malicious polymorphic apps that leverage various methods, such as AI, to be altered to avoid detection,” Google says.

The latest update is currently being progressively deployed to Android devices equipped with Google Play services, commencing in select countries, beginning with India, and is set to extend to all regions in the months ahead.

Google states that Play Protect performs scans on 125 billion apps every day to safeguard users from malware and unwanted software.

According to a recent discovery, Google Play Store is experimenting with a permanent search bar on the app’s homepage. 

Written by Sophie Blake


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