Google creates App Defense Alliance to flush out malicious Play Store apps

Google has teamed up with security firms ESET, Lookout, and Zimperium to form the new App Defense Alliance that will involve the companies working together to "stop bad apps before they reach users’ devices".

In a blog post published on Wednesday, Google's VP for Android Security & Privacy Dave Kleidermacher wrote that the objective of creating the App Defense Alliance was to work with talented security researchers and to exploit their advanced detection engines to ensuring the safety of the Google Play Store, quickly finding potentially harmful applications, and stopping them from being published.

"As part of this Alliance, we are integrating our Google Play Protect detection systems with each partner’s scanning engines. This will generate new app risk intelligence as apps are being queued to publish. Partners will analyze that dataset and act as another, vital set of eyes prior to an app going live on the Play Store," he wrote.

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"Like Google Play Protect, our partners’ technologies use a combination of machine learning and static/dynamic analysis to detect abusive behaviour. Multiple heuristic engines working in concert will increase our efficiency in identifying potentially harmful apps.

"Knowledge sharing and industry collaboration are important aspects in securing the world from attacks. We believe working together is the ultimate way we will get ahead of bad actors. We’re excited to work with these partners to arm the Google Play Store against bad apps," he added.

App Defense Alliance partners' detection tools will scan new Play Store apps for malware

Kleidermacher also said that the decision to co-opt ESET, Lookout, and Zimperium in improving the security of the Play Store was made on the basis of the successes these firms achieved in finding potential threats and their dedication to improving the ecosystem. All three firms are experts in endpoint protection and offer mobile security products and solutions to millions of Android device users.

Announcing the creation of App Defense Alliance, ESET said that the alliance complements the existing partnerships it currently has with Google, including the integration with Chronicle, a division of Google Cloud, and the embedded ESET engine in Google Chrome Cleanup, a security tool that alerts Google Chrome users to potential threats.

"What was previously a reactive effort to catch security vulnerabilities is now a full-fledged and proactive campaign to protect billions of consumers and businesses at the source. Together with Google, ESET and the other App Defense Alliance members will be able to provide Google with the information to eliminate threats and help Android users stay one step ahead of cyber criminals," said Tony Anscombe, global security evangelist and industry ambassador, ESET.

"With the discovery of unique banking trojans, spyware and ransomware, ESET has helped to identify some of the most sophisticated threats targeting Android mobile devices. With this monumental partnership, ESET’s research teams will be intimately involved with the analysis of all applications and help to proactively protect the users of the Google Play Store.

"As part of this collaboration, ESET will share with Google its determinations on apps it detects as malicious, potentially harmful or unwanted, prior to the app being published on the Google Play Store," the firm added.

ALSO READ: Google Play Protect to scan Android apps for malware even after installation

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