Google has published the annual Android security report, where they review the changes and the evolution of the mobile platform in terms of security and privacy. It addresses issues such as the existence of potentially dangerous applications for users, or, as Google calls them, PHA’s, as well as the progress made by manufacturers when it comes to bringing the latest security patches to their devices.
In general, the report brings good news. During the last quarter of last year, only 0.08% of the devices in which only the app was installed through Google Play were infected with threats from potentially dangerous applications, which confirms the effectiveness of the Google Play Protect system when identifying hazards.
Google indicates that Play Protect analyzes more than 50 billion applications every day on millions of devices around the world, so it is the most widespread threat prevention system in the world. And while in the past the security of this tool has been questioned, the improvements it brings in terms of protection are evident when looking at the statistics.
The report also specifies that 2018 was the first year that Google began to pursue fraudulent applications whose sole purpose was to attract users’ clicks on advertising for profit. These apps began to be marked as PHA’s, and therefore its installation by the users was largely avoided. This and other measures served to prevent up to 1.6 billion installations of dangerous apps from sources external to Google Play.
Of course, a safe platform would be useless if the rest of the partners do not do their part. Fortunately, in 2018 it was not like that, but rather the opposite. The increase in the number of devices that received security patches with respect to the same period of the previous year Q4 2017 was 84%, and Google points to Android One, Project Treble, Android Enterprise Recommended and other collaborations with manufacturing companies as the main ones causing this improvement. For its part, Google Pixel devices did not have any vulnerability exploited during the last quarter, and more than 95% of units in the series Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL had a security patch released in the last 90 days.
Google also points out that a total of more than 3 million dollars in reward was distributed among all those who discovered and reported some type of threat on the platform. To conclude, although it is a detail that should not surprise anyone, the report indicates that Android 9 Pie is the version of the safest system with the least number of threats.
Also published on Medium.