How we fought dangerous apps and dangerous actors in 2023

A protected and trusted Google Play expertise is our high precedence. We leverage our SAFE (see beneath) ideas to offer the framework to create that have for each customers and builders. Here is what these ideas imply in apply:

  • (S)afeguard our Customers. Assist them uncover high quality apps that they’ll belief.
  • (A)dvocate for Developer Safety. Construct platform safeguards to allow builders to give attention to progress.
  • (F)oster Accountable Innovation. Thoughtfully unlock worth for all with out compromising on person security.
  • (E)volve Platform Defenses. Keep forward of rising threats by evolving our insurance policies, instruments and know-how.

With these ideas in thoughts, we’ve made current enhancements and launched new measures to proceed to maintain Google Play’s customers protected, even because the menace panorama continues to evolve. In 2023, we prevented 2.28 million policy-violating apps from being printed on Google Play1 partly because of our funding in new and improved safety features, coverage updates, and superior machine studying and app evaluate processes. We’ve got additionally strengthened our developer onboarding and evaluate processes, requiring more identity information when builders first set up their Play accounts. Along with investments in our evaluate tooling and processes, we recognized dangerous actors and fraud rings extra successfully and banned 333K dangerous accounts from Play for violations like confirmed malware and repeated extreme coverage violations.

Moreover, nearly 200K app submissions have been rejected or remediated to make sure correct use of delicate permissions reminiscent of background location or SMS entry. To assist safeguard person privateness at scale, we partnered with SDK suppliers to restrict delicate knowledge entry and sharing, enhancing the privateness posture for over 31 SDKs impacting 790K+ apps. We additionally considerably expanded the Google Play SDK Index, which now covers the SDKs utilized in nearly 6 million apps throughout the Android ecosystem. This priceless useful resource helps builders make higher SDK selections, boosts app high quality and minimizes integration dangers.

Defending the Android Ecosystem

Constructing on our success with the App Defense Alliance (ADA), we partnered with Microsoft and Meta as steering committee members within the newly restructured ADA below the Joint Development Foundation, a part of the Linux Foundation household. The Alliance will assist industry-wide adoption of app safety greatest practices and tips, in addition to countermeasures towards rising safety dangers.

Moreover, we introduced new Play Retailer transparency labeling to highlight VPN apps which have accomplished an impartial safety evaluate by App Protection Alliance’s Mobile App Security Assessment (MASA). When a person searches for VPN apps, they may now see a banner on the high of Google Play that educates them in regards to the “Impartial safety evaluate” badge within the Knowledge security part. This helps customers see at-a-glance {that a} developer has prioritized safety and privateness greatest practices and is dedicated to person security.

To raised defend our prospects who set up apps outdoors of the Play Retailer, we made Google Play Shield’s safety capabilities much more highly effective with real-time scanning on the code-level to fight novel malicious apps. Our safety protections and machine studying algorithms study from every app submitted to Google for evaluate and we have a look at hundreds of alerts and evaluate app conduct. This new functionality has already detected over 5 million new, malicious off-Play apps, which helps defend Android customers worldwide.

Extra Stringent Developer Necessities and Tips

Final 12 months we updated Play policies round Generative AI apps, disruptive notifications, and expanded privateness protections. We are also elevating the bar for brand spanking new private developer accounts by requiring new testing requirements earlier than builders could make their app obtainable on Google Play. By testing their apps, getting suggestions and guaranteeing all the pieces is prepared earlier than they launch, builders are in a position to deliver extra top quality content material to Play customers. In an effort to enhance belief and transparency, we’ve launched expanded developer verification requirements, together with D-U-N-S numbers for organizations and a brand new “Concerning the developer” part.

To give users more control over their personal data, apps that allow account creation now want to offer an choice to provoke account and knowledge deletion from throughout the app and on-line. This net requirement is very essential so {that a} person can request account and knowledge deletion with out having to reinstall an app. To simplify the person expertise, we’ve got additionally included this as a function throughout the Knowledge security part of the Play Retailer.

With every iteration of the Android working system (together with its sturdy set of APIs), a myriad of enhancements are launched, aiming to raise the person expertise, bolster safety protocols, and optimize the general efficiency of the Android platform. To additional safeguard our prospects, roughly 1.5 million functions that don’t goal the newest APIs are not obtainable within the Play Retailer to new customers who’ve up to date their gadgets to the newest Android model.

Trying Forward

Defending customers and builders on Google Play is paramount and ever-evolving. We’re launching new safety initiatives in 2024, together with eradicating apps from Play that aren’t clear about their privateness practices.

We additionally just lately filed a lawsuit in federal courtroom towards two fraudsters who made a number of misrepresentations to add fraudulent funding and crypto trade apps on Play to rip-off customers. This lawsuit is a crucial step in holding these dangerous actors accountable and sending a transparent message that we are going to aggressively pursue those that search to reap the benefits of our customers.

We’re consistently engaged on new methods to guard your expertise on Google Play and throughout the whole Android ecosystem, and we look ahead to sharing extra.


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