Google is working on a native anti-virus scanner for Android

Like any other computing platform, Android is susceptible to malware. The issue with Android, however, is while malware on other platforms (namely iOS) comes from third-party sources, there have been instances of malware making it into Android’s official Play Store. Earlier this year Google moved to mitigate the malware threat in Play Store by introducing Bouncer, a cloud malware scanner that scans all apps prior to allowing them to be available in Google Play Store. News is now emerging that Google is going even further and is working on a native anti-virus/anti-malware scanner for Android.

A teardown of the latest Play Store APK by Android Police revealed traces of a malware scanner baked into Play Store. Android Police didn’t find conclusive proof but they did the more-than-hints hints of a forthcoming malware scanner:

<string name=”package_malware_title”>App Check</string>
    <string name=”package_malware_consent_text”>”Allow Google to check all apps installed to this device for harmful behavior?
To learn more, go to Settings > Security.”</string>
    <string name=”package_malware_banner_warning”>Installing this app may harm your device</string>
    <string name=”package_malware_banner_blocked”>Installation has been blocked</string>
    <string name=”package_malware_recommendation_warning”>Google recommends that you do not install this app.</string>
    <string name=”package_malware_recommendation_blocked”>To protect you, Google has blocked the installation of this app.</string>
    <string name=”package_malware_app_name”>App name: “%s”</string>
    <string name=”package_malware_checkbox_label”>I understand that this app may be dangerous.</string>
    <string name=”package_malware_consent_title”>Verify apps?</string>

Aside from that, there are some images, named “ic_warning_dark.png” and “ic_shield_dark.png” that look awful like they could belong to an malware scanner:

In the title of this article I say “native to Android” but that isn’t exactly true. It looks like this scanner will come with Play Store — so devices that are without Play Store will not benefit. Also, it isn’t clear if the scanner only scans apps that you acquire through Play Store or all apps on your device; nor is it clear if it blocks installation of malicious sideloaded apps or only malicious Play Store apps.

It isn’t exactly clear when this new scanner will be deployed by Google. I wonder how the various anti-virus app companies will react to this news.

[via Android Police]

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1 comment

  1. Unicorn02

    I use the free Sophos Mobile Security and am quite happy with it. I know that Avast is all the rage, but if you do just need the plain malware scanning part, then sophos looks quite nice.