Google Play Protect will automatically block malicious apps on Android

In order to protect users from online financial scams, Google Play Protect will soon start automatically blocking the installation of malicious apps on Android. The new feature, which is being tested first in Singapore, was announced by the search giant last Tuesday (6).

According to the company, the enhanced protection of the threat detection service will provide a detailed analysis of the use of sensitive runtime permissions common in financial fraud. The targets will be four specific requests: RECEIVE_SMS (receive SMS), READ_SMS (read SMS), BIND_NOTIFICATIONS (notification history) and Accessibility (accessibility).

The new feature reinforces security against financial scams, mainly (Image: Disclosure/Google)

The new feature reinforces security against financial scams, mainly (Image: Disclosure/Google)Source: Google/Disclosure

As big tech explained, these permissions “are often used by fraudsters to intercept one-time passwords via SMS or notifications, as well as spy on screen content.” More than 95% of installations of malware families that exploit such requests originate from unofficial sources.

Once this new security tool is activated, the Google Play Protect will automatically block malicious apps that include any of these four permissions in downloads outside the Play Store, preventing their installation. Then, an alert will be shown on the screen, informing the user of the reason for not allowing that software.

Availability in more regions?

Initially, Play Protect will automatically block malicious apps only for those residing in Singapore. The enhanced protection is part of a strategic partnership with the Singapore Cybersecurity Agency (CSA) and will be launched “in the coming weeks”, according to Google.

The feature has already been tested by the local government and will now be available to the general public on Android devices with Google Play Services. At the moment, there is no forecast of availability of the protection tool in more countriesas the Mountain View giant intends to verify the efficiency of the system before expanding access to it.

Recently, the Android threat detection service was updated with improved real-time scanning. The functionality, optimized to deal with software that uses AI and other methods to escape analysis, already identified 515 thousand new malicious apps, blocking 3.1 million installations.

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