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Google Play Protect can now scan sideloaded apps

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Google is bolstering the real-time Play Protect code-level scanning to detect and quarantine polymorphic malware, a sneaky strain of malicious software that uses shape-shifting tactics to evade detection. Google has initiated the rollout of this new scanning feature in India and plans to make it available worldwide in the coming months.

“This enhancement will help better protect users against malicious polymorphic apps that leverage various methods, such as AI, to be altered to avoid detection,” Google explained.

Polymorphic malware has emerged as a formidable challenge for security systems, and Google has responded with a multifaceted approach to counter it. This update to Play Protect will fortify its defences by incorporating advanced features that can identify apps attempting to alter their identifiable characteristics using techniques like artificial intelligence.

With this update, Play Protect will rely on its existing scanning intelligence and recommend real-time app scans for installed apps that have not yet been scrutinised.

Google aims to counter polymorphic malware.

When a user installs a new app, the system will perform a code-level evaluation and subsequently inform the user about the app’s safety status, thus allowing users to make informed decisions about the software they install on their devices.

Google Play Protect is a vital component of the Android ecosystem, available on virtually all Android devices with Google Play Services. It is instrumental in scanning over 125 billion apps daily, preventing malware and unwanted software proliferation.

In September 2023, researchers found a Youtube-themed CapraRAT APK used by threat actor APT36.

In April, it was discovered that more than 60 Android apps with 100 million downloads were infected with Goldoson malware.

Last year, Google banned 52 apps on the Play Store infected by Joker, Facestealer and Coper malware. In November 2022, cybersecurity researchers found four malicious apps with over one million downloads on Google Play Store.

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Kumar Hemant

Deputy Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant writes at the intersection of tech and culture and has a keen interest in science, social issues and international relations. You can contact him here: kumarhemant@pm.me

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