Google reveals Bouncer scanner system has reduced malicious software on Android Market by 40%

Robot is fighting back

Google reveals Bouncer scanner system has reduced malicious software on Android Market by 40%
Android developers may not have to go through the same rigorous review process as those working on Apple devices, but that doesn't mean that Google isn't concerned about security issues.

In a post over on the Google Mobile blog, VP of engineering Hiroshi Lockheimer has outlined a security system which has been running for a while in the background of the Android Market place.

Codenamed Bouncer, the system is designed to provide automated scans of all Android Market content, both new and existing, as well as developer accounts for malicious software, without disrupting user or developer experience.

How it works

"Once an application is uploaded, the service immediately starts analysing it for known malware, spyware and trojans," explains Lockheimer.

"It also looks for behaviours that indicate an application might be misbehaving, and compares it against previously analysed 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 analyse new developer accounts to help prevent malicious and repeat-offending developers from coming back."

Cause and effect

Lockheimer goes on to highlight that since this service has been employed, the amount of malicious software has seen a dramatic decrease. In fact, between the first and second halves of 2011 malicious content fell by 40 percent.

"This drop occurred at the same time that companies who market and sell anti-malware and security software have been reporting that malicious applications are on the rise," stressed Lockheimer.

Lockheimer also outlines other areas of protection that run behind the Android scenes.

Sandboxing provides virtual walls to protect content on your device should malware make its way there. Permissions, meanwhile, enables users to view and organise their app preferences, allowing them to see if an app is behaving untowardly.

Despite these measures Lockheimer concludes, "no security approach is foolproof, and added scrutiny can often lead to important improvements."

"Our systems are getting better at detecting and eliminating malware every day, and we continue to invite the community to work with us to keep Android safe."

[source: Google Mobile blog]

When Matt was 7 years old he didn't write to Santa like the other little boys and girls. He wrote to Mario. When the rotund plumber replied, Matt's dedication to a life of gaming was established. Like an otaku David Carradine, he wandered the planet until becoming a writer at Pocket Gamer.