Google recently released their Play Store stats for 2017. The results are both encouraging and disheartening. Overall, Google caught and removed more than 700,000 malicious apps from the Play Store, minimizing their impact on the company's massive Android user base.
That's unquestionably good news, but it comes with a bit of a dark side. That figure represents a staggering 70 percent increase in the number of apps removed compared with 2016 figures. The hackers are not only relentless in their efforts, but they're picking up the pace dramatically.
Last year, Google made a significant change, putting Play Store security under the umbrella of the Google Play Project. This system is driven by "smart" detection software that automatically scans and provides alerts for any software that exhibits questionable behavior and gets better on its own thanks to Machine Learning protocols.
So far, that approach seems to be working pretty well. It's not without its flaws, of course. Google found itself in the news a few times last year when some malicious apps managed to slip through their impressive detection mechanisms, and got downloaded by several thousand users. Even so, it's clear that the company is committed to the process and takes the security of its users very seriously. Given today's digital landscape, that's important. That means something.
As for Google's plans for 2018:
More of the same. Continued, incremental improvements in the Google Play Project, continued support for the Zero-Day initiative, and keeping a watchful eye on all things security-related. The company is by no means perfect, but it's nice to know that we've got such a large company out there, fighting back.
Of course, it still falls to each individual user to be careful what apps you install on your various devices. No matter what Google does in the coming year, due diligence is still your last, best defense.