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Google again conducted a major cleanup of its Google Play app store over the past year. In addition to stopping 2.28 million risky apps, hundreds of thousands more Google Play accounts and applications were blocked or curtailed. This is thanks to the company’s tougher crackdown on malicious Android apps.

Google reported blocking substantially more risky apps in 2023 than in 2022. Then, 1.5 million high-risk apps were stopped, compared to last year’s 2.28 million apps. These are all apps that could threaten the security of end users.

In addition, 330,000 Google Play accounts that distributed malware or fraudulent apps or repeatedly violated Google Play policies were identified and blocked in the past year. In 2022, Google blocked 173,000 of such accounts for the same reasons.

Furthermore, Google rejected or removed 200,000 app submissions that asked for risky permissions. These include permission for text messaging content and location data collected in the background for no good reason.

Google also agreed with 31 SDK providers that these SDKs collect a minimal amount of data from the devices on which apps that use them are installed.

Tighter measures

The recent crackdown on malicious apps in Google Play results from the continued implementation of Google’s “SAFE” principles. More specifically, these principles are (S)afeguard Users, (A)dvocate for Developer Protection, (F)oster Responsible Innovation, (E)volve Platform Defenses.

In addition, the company managed to clean up its app store through measures such as a more stringent developer registration process and a corresponding ID verification.

It also introduced independent security reviews and badges for Android VPN apps, real-time scanning to prevent malware from executing itself, stronger firmware to make SoC-level errors harder to exploit, and an SDK index of 6 million apps to let developers choose the right secure SDKs for their projects.

Future initiatives

Through the App Defense Alliance, Google works with others like Microsoft and Meta, to make Android apps more secure. The company will implement new security measures again later this year. These include removing apps from Google Play that are unclear about their privacy rules.

In addition, the tech giant is sueing fraudulent or rogue Android app developers. The first test cases are already underway.

Also read: Google touts success in handling “bad actors” in 2022