American consumers and businesses face countless risks every day from cyber thieves and other bad actors who hope to steal their money, data, and more. These high-tech con artists shake consumer confidence and are a danger to industry growth and our economy. In fact, a 2013 McAfee report indicates that malicious cyber activity costs the U.S. economy up to $120 billion, and $1 trillion globally.
With this reality comes the need to both take additional steps to protect users’ money and data, and make honest assessments about what's happening in the marketplace. Fortunately for Android users, Google is doing both. For the second year in a row, the company detailed these efforts in its Android Security 2015 Year in Review.
Malware, Potentially Harmful Apps (PHAs), and dangerous websites are just a few of the very significant threats to technology users in today’s digital ecosystem. According to the Review, these threats “harm a device, harm the device’s user or do something unintended with user data.” Much to its credit, in the last year Google has reduced the probability of downloading a PHA in the Google Play store by more than 40 percent. Google takes this security one step further by offering its Verify Apps feature: an easy-to-use tool that identifies and helps to defend against PHAs installed from outside of Google Play. In fact, every day the company screens six billion installed apps and scans 400 million devices. Other features, such as the Android security patch checking tool, full-disk encryption, and support for fingerprint scanners are just some of the many steps Google has taken to improve the security of the Android ecosystem. Overall, potentially harmful apps were installed on fewer than 0.15 percent of Android devices that download apps solely from Google Play and only 0.5 percent of devices that install apps from other app stores as well.
The innovative products and services we entrust with our most personal and sensitive information are constantly under attack by bad actors. As we transition into a new internet chapter, one with even more interconnectivity, these threats will only grow in number and complexity. In order to curb these threats, it's imperative that industry leaders, developers, and other stakeholders collaborate with one another to ensure security vulnerabilities are known and appropriate measures are put in place to mitigate them.
The Android Security 2015 Year In Review signals Google’s commitment to work with those in the Android ecosystem. Malware, spyware, and other viruses are unfortunate realities in today’s digital marketplace, but transparent reports like Google’s will benefit everyone moving forward.
U.S. Policy and Government Relations Associate