It’s no secret that malware has crept on Google’s Android platform. It may not surprise some users either to learn that Android has the largest number of malware apps available on any mobile device. This can be put in part down to Google’s very open approach to letting apps into the market place, and part down the large number of handsets that use Android presenting a large target for malware authors.
However this isn’t all bad news as in a Google Mobile Blog Post it was revealed by Android’s VP of Engineering, Hiroshi Lockheimer that the company has been working for sometime on a solution to this problem called “Bouncer”. Bouncer is a system which will analyse submitted software and its functions, and compare them with previously red-flagged apps to improve the chances of a mal-ware app being caught before it’s posted. Bouncer executes a fully automated simulation of the App’s installer and functions in Google’s Cloud infrastructure before returning a verdict. Google state that not only new apps but all current market apps are also subject to being scanned by Bouncer.
It’s not known how long Bouncer has been running but it claims there has been a 40% reduction in Malware in the first and second halves of 2011, Lockheimer accepts that this conflicts with third party reports about malware in the Android Marketplace being on the rise, although he notes that most of these reports are created by people selling Android security software suggesting they have a vested interest in selling their product.
Lockheimer underlines Google’s certainty that the number of infections sourced from the Android Market has in fact fallen dramatically. This would appear to suggest that the claimed increase in Android malware infections could well be occurring through sideloaded software or via third-party app stores, which are outside of Google’s control.