Google launches App Defense Alliance to help catch bad Android apps

Georgina Torbet
Contributing Writer
Steve Dent/Engadget

Google's Play Store is home to millions of useful apps, but isn't always safe from software that hosts malware and obnoxious adware. Recently, the company has been attempting to clean up the Play Store and use it to push security updates. Untrustworthy app developers have found themselves in Google's cross hairs, with major developers being banned from the store due to ad fraud.

Now, as part of Google's crusade against dangerous apps, the company has set up a partnership with security firms ESET, Lookout and Zimperium. The App Defense Alliance is "working to stop bad apps before they reach users' devices" by checking new apps that are queued for publication on the Play Store and booting out those which are dangerous.

Google is integrating the scanning systems from each security group into its Play Protect detection system that scans apps for malware and other threats. The partner companies will also analyze data about app threats to hopefully scoop up any more malicious apps before they are published. Google says the systems will use a combination of machine learning and static and dynamic analysis to detect suspicious apps.

The App Defense Alliance is needed now more than ever to tackle the problem of Android malware. A recent report by malware researcher Lukas Stefanko found 172 harmful apps in the Play Store with more than 335 million combined installs, including apps containing hidden adware, stalkware, subscription scams and banking trojans.