Google finally scans malware-ridden Android Market

The Bouncer service analyzes apps in Android Market for known malware, spyware, and Trojans

In an effort to improve security in its Android Market, Google has been using a service providing automated scanning of applications submitted to the mobile application store, Google revealed on Thursday afternoon.

Code-named Bouncer, the service scans the market for potentially malicious software without disrupting the user experience or requiring developers to submit to an application approval process, said Hiroshi Lockheimer, vice of engineering for Android, in a blog post:

The service performs a set of analyses on new applications, applications already in Android Market, and developer accounts. 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.

[ In other software development news: Google this week released a mapping application to bridge JavaScript to the company's own Dart language. | Also on InfoWorld: Symantec warns of Android Trojans that mutate with every download. | Subscribe to InfoWorld's Developer World newsletter to get more details on the latest news in software development. ]

Google also analyzes new developer accounts to help prevent malicious developers from coming back, Lockheimer said. Bouncer has been in use for a while; Google found that between the first and second halves of last year, there was a 40 percent decrease in the number of potentially malicious downloads from Android Market.

"While it's not possible to prevent bad people from building malware, the most important measurement is whether those bad applications are being installed from Android Market -- and we know the rate is declining significantly," Lockheimer said. Android, he said, already offers security features like sandboxing, which puts virtual walls between applications and other software on a device, and permissions for managing preferences.

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.