Commentary

Google Says Android Safer Than Ever

Blame Google or not, but Android has long lagged behind Apple when it comes to mobile malware protection.

Pointing to fresh internal findings, however, the search giant says Android users are safer than ever.

In particular, “Google Play continues to be the safest place for Android users to download their apps,” Adrian Ludwig and Mel Miller -- members of Android’s Security Team -- note in a new blog post.

From 2015 through 2016, installs of potentially harmful apps (PHAs) from Google Play decreased in nearly every category.

Year-over-year, trojans dropped by 51.5%, and now represent just 0.016% of all installs; hostile downloaders dropped by 54.6%, and now represent 0.003% of installs; backdoors dropped by 30.5%, and make up 0.003% of installs; while phishing apps dropped by 73.4%, and now consist of 0.0018% of installs.

What’s more, by the end of 2016, only 0.05% of devices that downloaded apps exclusively from Play contained a PHA -- down from 0.15% in 2015.

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“Still, there’s more work to do for devices overall, especially those that install apps from multiple sources,” Ludwig and Miller concede. “While only 0.71 percent of all Android devices had PHAs installed at the end of 2016, that was a slight increase from about 0.5 percent in the beginning of 2015.”

Looking ahead, members of the Android Security Team are confident they can reduce the number of devices affected by PHAs using improved tools and lessons learned.

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