Google: Less Than 1% Of Androids Have Potentially Harmful App Installed

Google's Android security report shows that devices that only install apps from the Google Play store have fewer infections.

Sara Peters, Senior Editor

April 3, 2015

1 Min Read

Although Android is mobile malware authors' favorite target, the rate of "potentially harmful" Android application installations was cut nearly in half from Q1 to Q4 2014, according to Google's Android security year in review report released today.  

The report includes information gathered from Google Play, the official Android app store; Verify Apps, which scans apps installed outside Google Play; SafetyNet, an app health check service for developers, and; Safe Browsing, which keeps an eye out for phishing sites and other malicious URLs. 

Google found that fewer than 1 percent of Android devices had a "potentially harmful app (PHA)" installed in 2014. That number decreased to fewer than 0.15 percent on devices that only install from Google Play.

"Exploitation attempts were tracked for multiple vulnerabilities, and the data does not show any evidence of widespread exploitation of Android devices."

One of the vulnerabilities tracked was "FakeID," a vulnerability in Android's verification of digital signatures, exposed by Jeff Forristal of Blue Box Security at the BlackHat conference in August. (Forristal discussed it on DarkReading Radio live from BlackHat then.) According to the Google report:

In 2014, we blocked one instance of an app uploaded to Google Play that exploited [the FakeID] vulnerability. Outside of Google Play, Verify Apps also warns users about applications that exercise this vulnerability. Verify Apps identified 258 unique applications that exercise this vulnerability, and they were installed less than once for every 1 million installs checked by Verify Apps...

Many of the FakeID installs have characteristics that associate them with security research, and we have not identified any attempted exploitation that we would consider “malicious.”

Read the full report here. 

About the Author(s)

Sara Peters

Senior Editor

Sara Peters is Senior Editor at Dark Reading and formerly the editor-in-chief of Enterprise Efficiency. Prior that she was senior editor for the Computer Security Institute, writing and speaking about virtualization, identity management, cybersecurity law, and a myriad of other topics. She authored the 2009 CSI Computer Crime and Security Survey and founded the CSI Working Group on Web Security Research Law -- a collaborative project that investigated the dichotomy between laws regulating software vulnerability disclosure and those regulating Web vulnerability disclosure.

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