A two-year-long study has found that 2,040 apps on Google Play Store are harmful in some way. The study by the University of Sydney and Data61 of CSIRO says the research included about 1 million apps available on the Play Store. The most common issue being that these apps require suspicious amount of permissions. But, some of the apps have been straight up called as malware. The report is another instance highlighting Google’s failure to guard Play Store from fraudulent developers.
The study highlights that there are a large amount of fake apps on Play Store that are not malware. It adds that these apps require permissions to access data that they don’t need in the first place. Some of the popular titles asking for such permissions include Temple Run and Hill Climb Racing. The researchers used neural networks and machine learning to understand and process all the one million apps.
How researchers identified harmful apps on Google Play Store
The researchers mention that the algorithm was set to look for similar text description. The algorithms also looked for visually similar icons to identify fake apps on the Play Store. They set visually similar icons to 10,000 most popular apps on Google‘s app store. The algorithm reportedly returned 49,608 potential threats based on these algorithms.
About 7,246 of the apps found on Play Store were flagged as malicious by VirusTotal. The app flagged 2,040 of them as fake and high-risk apps. In total, 1,565 apps were found requesting at least five sensitive permissions. On the other, there are 1,407 apps that embed third-party ad libraries. Google says the apps studied by the researchers have already been removed. Increasingly, Google is taking action against such fraudulent apps based on research and studies around the world.
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This is in stark contrast to the approach taken by Apple. CNBC recently reported Apple has over 300 people in its App Review team. These teams are said to individually check each app and their updates before they are made available on the App Store. Google says the number of rejected app submissions had increased more than 55 percent over the last year. The search giant also notes that app suspensions have risen to 66 percent.