Study finds over 2000 dangerous apps on Google Play store
A group of researchers from the University of Sydney and CSIRO's Data61 investigated and tested over 1 million apps on the Google Play store and found over 2000 malware-laden counterfeits. Sadly, some of them are extremely popular and have millions of downloads. The two-year long study reveals that there's a massive number of impersonated popular gaming apps available on the Play store. There are also apps that contain risky malware. So, beware before downloading apps from Play store.
The story noted that besides the impersonated apps the Google Play Store also includes several fake apps that despite being malware free requests "dangerous data access permissions". The study also noted, "Games Temple Run, Free Flow and Hill Climb Racing were among the most commonly counterfeited."
To investigate these applications thoroughly on the Google Play store the researchers used neural networks. With the help of this process, the researchers were able to identify apps with similar icons and partially plagiarised text descriptions of the top 10,000 most popular apps in the Play Store. In addition, the 'multi-modal embedding' machine learning process helped the researchers throw up 49,608 potential counterfeits.
After identifying the potential counterfeits the researchers checked for malware in them with the help of private API of online malware analysis tool VirusTotal. The researchers used a process called 'relaxed threshold' and found 2040 high-risk and fake apps on the Android Google Play store.
Commenting on the story, study co-author Dr Suranga Seneviratne from the University of Sydney said, "While Google Play's success is marked on its flexibility and customisable features that allow almost anyone to build an app, there have been a number of problematic apps that have slipped through the cracks and have bypassed automated vetting processes." He further added, "Our society is increasingly reliant on smartphone technology so it's important that we build solutions to quickly detect and contain malicious apps before affecting a wider population of smartphone users."
According to Google the company now removes malicious developers from Play store much faster when compared to previous years. The company says that in 2018 it stopped more malicious apps from entering the store than ever before. Google also claims that the number of rejected apps submission in Play store increased by more than 55 per cent last year. The company also noted that the app suspension rate increased by over 66 per cent.
In the blog post back in the month of February Google Play product manager Andrew Ahn noted, "These increases can be attributed to our continued efforts to tighten policies to reduce the number of harmful apps on the Play Store, as well as our investments in automated protections and human review processes that play critical roles in identifying and enforcing on bad apps."