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Friday, February 3, 2012
Google Bouncer will fight Android malware
Bouncer scanning software, developed by Google, is designed to search the Android market for software that could be malicious, the company announced Thursday on its blog.
With the success of Android this year, the company says it wants to protect its many users and their devices from harm.
“Device activations grew 250% year-on-year, and the total number of app downloads from Android Market topped 11 billion,” Hiroshi Lockheimer, VP of engineering, wrote on the Google Mobile Blog. “As the platform continues to grow, we’re focused on bringing you the best new features and innovations — including in security.”
Bouncer will scan current and new applications, plus developer accounts. The blog post explained how the service will function.
“Here’s how it works: once an application is uploaded, the service immediately starts analyzing it for known malware, spyware and trojans. It also looks for behaviors that indicate an application might be misbehaving, and compares it against previously analyzed apps to detect possible red flags. We actually run every application on Google’s cloud infrastructure and simulate how it will run on an Android device to look for hidden, malicious behavior. We also analyze new developer accounts to help prevent malicious and repeat-offending developers from coming back.”
Bouncer was tested in 2011 and comparing the first half of the year to the second, Google Mobile reported a 40% decrease in malicious downloads.
Google says from the beginning, Android was designed with security in mind. And, although a company can’t prevent malware, it can control the amount of damage those threats can cause with a dynamic security plan.
Some of Android’s core security features are:
Sandboxing: The Android platform uses a technique called “sandboxing” to put virtual walls between applications and other software on the device. So, if you download a malicious application, it can’t access data on other parts of your phone and its potential harm is drastically limited.
Permissions: Android provides a permission system to help you understand the capabilities of the apps you install, and manage your own preferences. That way, if you see a game unnecessarily requests permission to send SMS, for example, you don’t need to install it.
Malware removal: Android is designed to prevent malware from modifying the platform or hiding from you, so it can be easily removed if your device is affected. Android Market also has the capability of remotely removing malware from your phone or tablet, if required.
Google’s long been fine-tuning its security features for its various products. Although in the past Google’s products have clashed with that of other mobile service providers due to security concerns.