Google unveils plans to bring continuous malware monitoring to Android

April 10, 2014
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Back in February, we first reported on a rumor suggesting that Google was preparing to bring constant scanning to Android, extending on the existing functionality of Android’s “verify apps” service. Taking to their official Android blog, Google has now made the change official.

Previously “verify apps” was used to check for malware the first time you installed a new app. The new Android security service does the same thing as before, except it continuously checks the device to ensure that everything is running as it should.

In their official blog post, Google boasted about how the existing Verify Apps system has been used over 4 billion times, though most users never actually run into malware issues. For those that do, Android’s scanning system will deliver a warning box telling you not to install the app. Google says that less than .18 percent of installs last year occurred after the user received a warning suggesting the app might be potentially harmful.

Scanning regularly should further help Android catch any possible malware that sneaks in

So why allow the ‘verify apps’ service to continuously scan, versus only running when new apps are first installed? There are a number of reasons, really.

First, an app could appear clean upon first scan, but could have hidden malware that doesn’t become apparent until later. There’s also the possibility that an app could contain malware that is unknown when first installed, but is latter identified. With the continuous scan method, Google’s scanner would eventually identify the app and prompt you to remove it.

Bottom-line, scanning regularly should further help Android catch any possible malware that sneaks in. Of course the best way to ensure that you don’t encounter malware is to only download apps from reputable sources such as Google Play, but even then, things can and sometimes do manage to make their way in.

When is continuous scanning rolling out?

So when we’ll the update for continuous scanning arrive? Although Google doesn’t specify, previous reports about the change to ‘verify apps’ suggested the new functionality will come with the next update to Play services — though no word on exactly when that will occur. Either way, we expect the change to occur fairly quickly.

What do you think about Google adding constant scanning to Android? A good idea, or largely unnecessary for those that are smart about where they install apps from?

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