Google has released its second Android Security Annual report which details how the company's services were used to protect the Android ecosystem, along with an overview of the latest security protections it introduced to the mobile operating system in 2015.
By further improving the company's machine learning and event correlation, Google has improved its ability to detect potentially harmful behaviour. The company has performed daily checks on the over 6 billion applications on the Play Store in order to protect Android users from Potentially Harmful Apps (PHAs).
Google also scanned 400 million devices per day to help guard against network-based and on-device threats. The company's Safe Browsing feature, which is included in its Chrome browser, also helped protect hundreds of millions of Chrome users on Android from unsafe and malicious websites.
Google has also made it increasingly difficult to put PHAs on the Google Play store. The enhancements added to the store last year have made it 40 per cent harder to get malicious apps approved and listed. On Google Play, install attempts of PHAs have declined significantly with the install rates of Data Collecting apps down from 40 per cent to 0.08 per cent, spyware apps down from 60 per cent to 0.02 per cent and apps which included Hostile Downloaders down from 50 per cent to 0.01 per cent.
In 2015, there was an increase in the amount of PHA install attempts from outside of the Play Store but Google was able to disrupt several coordinated efforts to install PHAs that did not originate from its store but came from hostile websites and other sources.
With the launch of Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the company was able to add even more security protections and controls to Android. All new devices running the latest version of the OS are required to have full disk encryption which extends to the data stored on SD cards. App permissions were also updated to give Android users more control over how the apps on their devices communicated with other installed apps. A host of other new security feature were also added to the OS as part of Marshmallow.
The tech industry as a whole has been focusing heavily on security and encryption and throughout 2015, Google took a number of steps to ensure that Android remains a secure platform and that the Google Play store continues to be free of malicious apps.