Have you ever considered how many people fall victim by the hands of cybercriminals? Every year there are millions. In this day of high internet speeds, cybersecurity is our biggest challenge. Industry leaders like Microsoft and Google are also feeling the fallback. As of last year, Google’s Play Store was under user scrutiny for suspect apps in its Play Store.
The cybersecurity company RiskIQ reported that Google’s Play Store contained the highest number of risky apps. Google Play Store has been fighting a war on its platform for a very long time. A war against malicious apps. And finally, in the first quarter of the year, Google enjoyed some success.
What Happened with Google?
If you don’t know what happened, here is the full story. RiskIQ reported in mid-2018 that Google’s Play Store has the most number of suspect apps. Those are the apps that either contain malware, phishing protocols or imitate another brand.
Services like RiskIQ, search for and find these apps. They are then blacklisted by the stores on which they are listed. According to the report, 45 percent of all blacklisted apps in 2018 was from Google’s Play Store. While the main competitor, Apple’s App Store, was nowhere to be found on the list.
How Did Google Let This Happen?
The key lesson here is the age-old saying ‘You shouldn’t bite off more than you can chew’. Google decided to add as many new apps into their store as possible. In fact, they ended up adding the most newly released apps than any other store. 1,102,703 app to be exact.
As a comparison, Apple didn’t even add half as many as Google. When a company like Google gets competitive, somethings are bound to fall through the cracks. Unfortunately, this time, the ‘cracks’ were Google’s Play Store users and the ‘somethings’ were malicious apps.
How Did Google Win?
As per the latest report from RiskIQ, google is no longer in the lead for the most blacklisted apps. That mantle has moved onto 9Game.com. 9Game is another website that hosts third-party applications for download. As of Q1 of this year, 9Game hosted 17,059 blacklisted apps.
So Google is not out of the water yet. They might have won the battle, but not the war. We will have to wait and see till the end of the year if Google makes it back up the ranks. Most android users hope that Google has learned from past mistakes. And that it won't let such malicious apps through to its platform.
Are All Google Play Store Apps Affected?
Reading this blog, you might be thinking that you shouldn’t use Google’s Play Store anymore. While its good to be cautious, it is also important to note something about Google’s figures. They might seem scary, but they are taken out of context.
Even though the Play Store has been always faced issues with blacklisted apps, they don’t account for much. All of the blacklisted apps account for 6 percent of the total apps available on the platform. So even though there were many malicious apps on the platform, there are even more clean apps. So the chances of you finding and downloading a malicious app from the Play Store become negligible.
How Can You Protect Yourself?
So the only question left to wonder is ‘How can you protect yourself?’. There are millions of apps available in the Play Store. How can you be certain that the app you want is safe?
There are a few things that you can try:
Anti-malware and Anti-virus
Antimalware is a software or app that can scan your device for any malware. There are a lot of options available if you want to get an anti-virus for your phone. Getting an antivirus doesn’t make you completely invincible though.
Limit Access to Apps
Every phone will have a setting page that caters to app permissions. Under your app management, you can select which apps have access to what information in your device. There are some apps which aren’t malicious but still want access to things like camera and contacts. Instead of deleting those apps, you can simply limit their access. If they can access information on your phone, they can’t share it.
Don’t Use Alternative Sources
Just like Google is accountable for maintaining the integrity of apps available on its store. So are all other third-party app stores. If you download apps from an untrustworthy store, you might be at a higher risk. That’s because a lot of small online app stores don’t care about their reputation like Google. So their security measures might be more relaxed.
The internet is a dangerous place now. There are more cybercrime reports today than ever before. It’s gotten so bad that I once thought about downgrading my internet bundle deals to just cable. Starz on Cox can give me just as much entertainment as the internet. Of course, I would never seriously consider forgoing the internet. But like many others, I am beginning to see the dangers more clearly. And the fact that Google also has trouble with malicious apps on its Play Store, doesn’t help.