Future ‘Verify Apps’ update will reportedly bring continuous app monitoring

February 27, 2014

    google verify apps defense (1)

    According to a new report, a change to Android’s Verify Apps service will be introduced with the next version of Google Play services.

    There’s a boogie man out there in the Android world, and his name is Malware. We’re sure you’ve read quite a few reports out there on the net about how malware is waiting in just about every corner, hoping to pounce on your unsuspecting Android tablet or smartphone. The reality isn’t nearly as bleak.

    Sure, malware exists for Android, as it’s the world’s most popular OS, but downloading directly from the Play Store and other trusted sources is one of the best ways to ensure that you stay safe. Avoiding strange text messages with links and reading through app permissions also help keep the threat largely at bay.

    Still, at the end of the day, malicious code can and sometimes does get through. The good news is that Google is reportedly preparing to make a change to its Verify Apps service that will help reduce the problem.

    Android-4.2-security-verify-apps-google-play

    For those who don’t know, Android already has a feature in place that scans your newly downloaded apps for malware before fully installing them. In the next Play Services update, this scanning feature will no longer run just one time per app, and instead will constantly run in the background.

    Scanning will no longer run just one time, and instead will constantly run in the background

    What’s the purpose if they’ve already been scanned once? The idea is that some apps might have unidentified malware that sneaks by the first time it is installed, or you could even download an malicious app appears innocent at first scan, but could then later be downloading malware in the background. A continuous scanning approach would come in handy both of these scenarios.

    Of course there’s also the question of whether such an approach would negatively affect battery life. While it’s possible it could have a small effect, we would imagine the overall impact would be pretty minor, though obviously we won’t know for sure until the new version of Play Services rolls out.

    It’s also worth noting that since Verify Apps is already optional, a continuous running feature will also likely be an optional service — though that’s just speculation on our part.

    What do you think, glad to see that Google is taking a more active roll to address potential malware concerns, or do you feel that these steps are unnecessary as long as Android users follow basic safety and security practices?

    Comments

    • Albin

      I’m much less bothered by the theoretic possibility of malware than by the actual reality of preinstalled and unremovable bloatware. I’d like to see Google adopt and require something like what South Korea has apparently legislated:

      http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/01/south-korea-bans-unremovable-mobile-bloatware/

      I did hear some Apple-biased TV pundit recently say something like “95% of mobile malware is on Android”: 95% of a microproblem is still an effective marketing soundbyte, and that’s what Google is responding to. But the Android exposure is not Play Store but alternative download sources and side-loading APKs from dubious repackagers. The best Google can do is convince users that anything actually from the Play Store is safe, but completely sealing off Android as Apple has done is not in the cards.

    • districtjack

      For those who don’t sideload apps and are careful about how they act online, there is no reason to have an antivirus running in the background. On the other hand some people are not educated on malware, will not do the research to discover how they can remain safe, and therefore need a program running in the background whether it impacts battery life or not.

      Personally I think verify apps running in the background is a good idea because every little bit helps. Especially with free apps, where are they getting there ads from? Is it static code or variable code? A constantly running Verify Apps would solve that problem. I’m sure Google is aware of battery life concerns but I always carry a spare.

      • Guest123

        that’ll never happen in the US. . . imagine google’s apps being uninstallable — the whole reason for many of these current changes to Android is to ensure google apps have higher permissions and therefore are the only really useable apps.

        • districtjack

          What will never happen in the U.S.? Could you be a little more specific?

          • Guest123

            sorry, that reply was to Albin. . . clearly hit the wrong reply link.

    • Guest123

      I’m doubtful this is “for the user” as much as it is for google and developers. Furthermore, google making everyone’s devices run more, eat up more battery, etc. . . seems about as bright as well, letting malware into their play store in the first place.

      The real problem is google’s poor ability to keep the play store clean, and complete and utter lack of giving users some control over app permissions to ensure that, even if malware gets on their device it won’t get sensitive data, but then google wants free access to anything and everything on your device whenever they want it. . .

      More stupidity coming from google just like breaking text wrapping/reflow, breaking the ext_sd access for third party apps, and now they want to constantly inspect your apps. — yeah, it’s for the user ;) ;)

    • Panama san

      Oh great, another app that will drain my battery.
      Not to mention that battery status API has been removed since KitKat. See the correlation ? *wink wink*

      Expect more battery hogging software come from Google in future Android.

    • http://sarugu.com/ Albert Albs

      Ok. I will tell you what… If Google Implementing this feature tomorrow on Android OS, Samsung will schedule this update for their phones after March 2015. This is what happening right now. :(

    • K

      Or they can do the scanning when the phone is put to charging.

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    • Groud Frank

      “Of course there’s also the question of whether such an approach would negatively affect battery life.” Android already has problems with rogue Android apps that make your phone run like a Chernobyl reactor so I’ll be switching that off(if there is such an option). I NEVER download pirated apps, side load apps from reputable sources like AA, AP, XDA, Cnet, etc and I read my emails carefully before clicking links. Of course, you can’t forget the obligatory “click responsibly; avoid Rule 34 as much as possible.

    • pjm77

      Who needs that crap? Couldn’t they just concentrate on making things that are already on my phone work properly? I’m sick of all this, my phone requires constant attention. The same as my laptop. And my printer. And my car. I’m doing little else than troubleshooting all this constantly failing technology. Do I really need to get rid of all this just to have a life?

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