Google beefs up malware protection for Android devices

Google is taking steps to address the security of Android apps with the launch of an app verification service for devices running Android 4.2 (Jellybean).

The security feature can diagnose the risk an app may pose, whether it is downloaded from the Google Play Store or from third-party sites. If it's potentially dangerous, users are prompted by a message screen warning that the app could cause harm. If the app does contain malware, Google will block its installation completely and users will see a message screen explaining why Google is forbidding it.

The feature -- which sends Google log information as well as information about a user's device, its operating system and IP address -- works in conjunction with the Google Play app, meaning that users must have that app installed on their smartphone or tablet if they want to protect their device and their personal information. Some users may feel that they don't want to share that much information with Google for the sake of avoiding a potentially risky app, but a number of major malware reports have emphasized over the past 12 months that 75 percent of app malware is targeted at Android devices and that the current safeguards on Google Play are not very robust. In fact, a recent report by Bit9 discovered that nearly 25 percent of the 600,000 apps currently available on Google Play were ‘suspicious' or ‘questionable'.

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