Google introduces new checks on mobile apps

Following the news that Google will be introducing new checks on mobile apps to increase security, Roy Tobin, threat researcher at Webroot, has offered the following comment:

"This move by Google has been a long time coming. Since Android’s inception the platform has been regarded as a fairly open community, with developers allowed a fair amount of flexibility.

"However, this freedom and lack of screening process has resulted in around 15 per cent of the Android app store’s apps being classed as malicious, according to Webroot’s Mobile Threat Report.

"This is in contrast to the Apple iTunes Store where developers must stick to stricter guidelines and the apps are put through a much more vigorous screening process. As a result, 92 per cent of the apps on the iTunes store were classed as ‘benign’, compared to just 38 per cent Android apps.

"Although the new checks are a step in the right direction, users still need to err on the side of caution when downloading apps and ensure they are from a reputable developer. Once an app is downloaded, users should be aware of what information it has access to and any request should be heavily scrutinised.

"If you’re not sure then deny access until you can get more information about the app. On top of this, people should take a proactive approach to security and install anti-virus software like you would on a PC. With the amount of information now held on a mobile device, it is now more important than ever to take the necessary security precautions.

"While Google’s announcement is welcome, this is not the end of the issue because of the rise in popularity of third party Android app stores.

"Unlike iOS, where apps can only be downloaded from the iTunes store, Android devices allow third party stores where there are even fewer security processes in place.

"This is also something Google needs to address, but in the meantime consumers should understand the dangers associated with downloading apps from third party sources."