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Google actively scanning Android Market for malicious apps

News by Dan Seifert on Thursday February 02, 2012.

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Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
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Google has revealed that it is using an automated scanning tool on the Android Market to look for any apps that appear to be malware or have malicious intent. Given the codename "Bouncer," the system looks for known malware threats and tests apps in a virtual Android environment for nefarious activity.

Google scans apps both new and existing apps in the Android Market, as well as developer accounts, for any suspicious activity. "We actually run every application on Google's cloud infrastructure and simulate how it will run on an Android device to look for hidden, malicious behavior," says the company. "We also analyze new developer accounts to help prevent malicious and repeat-offending developers from coming back."

Google contends that this system provides a level of safety and security to the Android Market without forcing developers to go through an app approval process like Apple enforces with its iTunes App Store for iOS or Microsoft does with its Windows Phone Marketplace for Windows Phone.

This is a welcome announcement from Google, as reports of malware in the Android Market have exploded in the past year. Google says that malware on Android is on the decline (thanks to its use of the Bouncer tool throughout 2011), and that the platform's system of sandboxing apps helps keep malicious apps in check if they do end up on a user's device. But this announcement certainly brings up the question, why wasn't Google doing this scanning and monitoring of the Android Market from the beginning?

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About the author

Dan Seifert
Dan is MobileBurn.com's Editor-in-Chief. Based in Poughkeepsie in New York, Dan can be found on Twitter as @DCSeifert.

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