With Android having over an 80% mobile OS market share worldwide, the company has to do a lot of work to maintain its dominance. One area where the platform was getting criticized (and still is) is the security holes that tend to pop up from time to time. This lead to Google releasing a monthly set of Android security patches but it’s left up to the OEM to implement them in a timely manner. The company does a lot of other work to show how it’s maintaining the security of Android and today they just released the first Android Ecosystem Security Transparency Report.
These new reports will be released quarterly and will go beyond their Android Security Year in Review report that gets published. This is the latest to get added to the company’s Transparency Report site (which started back in 2010) and is there for everyone to see so they know how the policies and actions of both corporations and governments affect privacy, security, and access to information online. Now, the Android Ecosystem Security Transparency Report will be used to show how often a full-device scan by Google Play Protect detects a device with PHAs installed.
We’ve covered how Google Play Protect handles PHAs (Potentially Harmful Applications) many times in the past. And it has prevented millions upon millions of devices from getting infected from some nasty malware. Google Play Protect scans 50 billion applications and games every single day. These applications which are scanned are the same apps we install from the Play Store but they also include apps which are sideloaded by the community. Naturally, this report is to be transparent to the community, governments, and companies so we’ll be receiving some stats in them.
Google tells us that these Android Ecosystem Security Transparency Reports will use segment charts to show devices that have had one or more PHA installed over time (by market). There will be two lines in the chart with one showing data about PHAs that were installed exclusively from the Google Play Store while the other will show the PHA rate for devices that installed applications and games outside of the Play Store. To give you a bit of data here, we’re told that (on average) only 0.09% devices that exclusively used Google Play had one or more PHAs installed in 2017.
Granted, 0.09% of 2 billion devices is still 1.8 million devices but that is an impressive number when we’re talking about that many smartphones and tablets. Anyone who is interested will find the first Android Ecosystem Security Transparency Report right here.