Google announced that it has commenced automatic scanning of all applications found in its Android Market in the wake of malware scares and consumer concerns over in-app spyware.
Google’s automated scanning service is codenamed Bouncer and “provides automated scanning of Android Market for potentially malicious software without disrupting the user experience of Android Market or requiring developers to go through an application approval process,” said Hiroshi Lockheimer, VP of engineering, Android in a post on the Google Mobile Blog.
Bouncer is used to scan both existing apps within the store and new apps that are submitted to the store. It is also intended to prevent repeat offenders from signing up for a developer account under a new pseudonym.
Prior to the introduction of Bouncer, Google usually only investigated apps if users downloaded, installed and then flagged an app after they discovered something was awry.
In December security company Sophos revealed that at least ten thousand users had downloaded malicious apps from the Android Market. Google, however, reported that downloads of potentially malicious apps in its app store decreased by 40 percent between the first and second halves of 2011.
“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,” said Lockheimer.
Google said it reached a record 11 billion app downloads from its Android Market in January. Apple announced that users had downloaded 18 billion apps from its App Store in October 2011.
Apple is notorious for its rigorous and stringent app approval process -- application approvals in the App Store can sometimes take months.
Both Android owners and developers are praising Google’s enhanced security measures. Android owners say that Bouncer will help protect them from harmful apps while developers are pleased that Google is not changing its relatively fast and easy process of submitting an app to the Android Market.