Android is widely considered by many to be the least secure of all mobile operating systems, but in recent years, Google has made serious efforts to change that perception. In its second annual security report, the company has revealed some mind-boggling numbers.

What’s particularly impressive about this report is that Google has been developing its machine learning to better detect harmful behavior within apps. Specifically, the company has checked over 6 billion installed apps every day over the past 12 months to protect users from malware and PHAs (Potentially Harmful Apps). What’s more, Google has also scanned up to 400 million devices every day to protect users from network-based or on-device threats. Chrome users are also protected from unsafe websites.

While Google has improved its ability to detect and protect devices from harmful apps post-install, it’s also made it more difficult to get unsafe apps on to the Google Play Store to begin with. Within Google Play, install attempts of harmful apps declined across the board.

  • Data Collection: decreased over 40% to 0.08% of installs
  • Spyware: decreased 60% to 0.02% of installs
  • Hostile Downloader: decreased 50% to 0.01% of installs

It’s clear to see then that Android security is improving and, with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, it’s going to get even better. Marshmallow requires that new devices have full disk encryption, if the hardware is capable, and gives the option to encrypt SD cards. And, of course, there’s Google’s commitment to releasing a security patch every month to deal with any new threats. Although several OEMs have joined in with that commitment, some are seemingly struggling to stick to the schedule and getting timely updates out, but Google says it is “increasing efforts to help partners update more devices in a timely manner”.

Overall, the latest report shows there are clearly some minor vulnerabilities in Google’s Android armor, but as each year passes, the platform gets far more secure than it ever has been.

About the Author

Cam Bunton's favorite gear