Google unveils 'Bouncer' to scan Android Market for malware

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Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) revealed a service dubbed Bouncer that the company said can scan its Android Market for potential threats without requiring a separate approval process.

Google said Bouncer doesn't disrupt its store and runs without interfering with developers or users. Bouncer compares an app's code to code from previously analyzed apps. If Bouncer suspects an app of deploying malicious code, the app is flagged and Google will manually inspect the app for possible Trojans, spyware and malware.

Bouncer also checks new developer accounts for possible misbehavior, to prevent repeat offenders from reregistering on the site.

"The service has been looking for malicious apps in Market for a while now, and between the first and second halves of 2011, we saw a 40 percent decrease in the number of potentially-malicious downloads from Android Market," wrote Hiroshi Lockheimer, VP of engineering at Android, on the Google Mobile blog. Lockheimer noted that these figures coincide with the same period that mobile security and anti-malware companies reported that malicious apps were on the rise--thus it appears Google is attempting to allay growing worries about the security of its Android apps.

Indeed, last year Juniper Networks reported that malware in Android Market increased 472 percent from July to October. October alone experienced a month-over-month increase of 110 percent. Juniper found a 400 percent increase in Android malware from 2009 to 2010. The report found that among known Android malware samples, 55 percent of threats act in one way or another as spyware. Another 44 percent are SMS Trojans.

Google does not specifically give approval to Android developers and applications the way Apple does with iOS apps its App Store. Whereas Apple specifically approves each application sold through its store, Google allows developers free access into its Android Market.

For more:
- see the Google Mobile blog
- read this Phandroid article

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