Google unveils plans to bring continuous malware monitoring to Android

by: Andrew GrushApril 10, 2014


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?

  • It’s a good idea if it does not slow down our devices like other antivirus/malware solutions are doing….

    • MasterMuffin

      Since it’s server based (right?), it would just quickly scan the apps and send the info to Google’s servers, so performance shouldn’t be a problem. Correct me if I’m horribly wrong!

  • Good!

  • Siphiwe

    Google must do something ASAP! There’s an app called MoboGenie that pops up on almost every website I visit when using an Android device, and there’s no option of cancelling it! I hope many of the Android users have seen it, it installs itself without my consent! Recently read the comments on PlayStore and everybody is complaining about it. Has anybody here experienced this?

    • MasterMuffin

      MoboGenie is so annoying. Also “Your Android has been infected. Download free anti-virus!”

      • Siphiwe

        Yep, exactly what happens to me!

      • Aravind J Nampoothiry

        This thing actually came to me on the Android Authority page,but in Hindi.

    • KK

      Downloads, but does not install

    • Blendi Krasniqi

      First, if you are running chrome it can not start downloading. Second, I never heard of an self installing app without user interaction. Third, I don’t know what sites are you visiting but the popup ad only shows for me in the websites that don’t have adsense ads. If you’re getting on every website change your router DNS to Google DNS. And finally, Google said about a month ago that they would start removing these kind of apps.

      • Mark Brough

        Blendi, do you mean Chrome or Chrome for Android? With Chrome for Android, downloading commences without confirmation or warning (apart from in the notification bar). It is surprisingly easy to click links which do not appear to be download links and to realise that you have unexpectedly triggered a download, which you then go and have to try and cancel, or to delete if it’s completed. I am surprised Chrome for Android does not have some download-confirmation feature.

    • Jalok Xlem

      Use firefox mobile, install security add-ons. There, your safe. I wish Chrome can introduce add-ons for the mobile browser as well. :[ But so far, Firefox is the only mobile browser that does that.

  • Milton

    So android needs an antivirus, just wonder how unsafe it is…

  • Met-Fu

    Can I turn it off? I wonder if Android nowadays really give choices

  • Mark Brough

    How do these pop-ups work? I thought annoying pop-ups had been disposed with years ago?

  • Sharath

    It might be a good feature,but i think it will eat the battery and slow down the device.

  • Can’t wait for the battery drain its what we want from google after all.

    • Cwalford

      Did you go to every Android blog and post the same thing? I’ve seen
      this or a similar line from you in every article about this feature.

      The Department of Redundancy Department is missing a member. Get him.

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  • Simon Belmont

    Maybe it will periodically scan all of the apps while your phone or tablet is plugged into the charger? That wouldn’t affect battery life at all, and still offer an extra measure of security over only scanning upon installation.

    I seriously doubt that it will just sit there scanning apps constantly and draining battery. The last thing Google wants to do is increase the perception that Android’s battery life isn’t good. Also, I’m sure that this is probably already in the existing Google Play Services. They probably just have to enable it on the back-end.

  • Cliff Fenelus

    Yes I think it is a good move for Google. More protection wouldn’t hurt anybody.