Google says the Android platform is more secure than ever, although there has been an increase in the number of potentially harmful applications (PHAs). In its latest Android Security & Privacy Year in Review report for 2018, Google says threats continue to be observed in apps that are pre-installed or are packaged in over-the-air (OTA) updates.
Android security has been a consistently hot topic through the history of the platform. Google's OS has often suffered from breaches in security, mostly delivered to smartphones through apps and browsers. Needless to say, security problems can cause problems when you are trying to enjoy bonuscode.my on your device browser or performance simple everyday tasks.
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Google has often defended Android by saying the operating system is completely secure in its stock form. The problem is OEMs take the platform and add their own services and UI touches to it, often compromising Google's own security mitigations. This problem is made worse by many OEMs delaying security patches and system updates for months.
Over the last five years, Google has published its Android Security & Privacy Year in Review, which details the threats and vulnerabilities that have impacted the OS. In 2018, the company says a rise in PHAs caused the biggest cause for concern.
"Malicious actors increased their efforts to embed PHAs into the supply chain using two main entry points: new devices sold with pre-installed PHAs and over the air (OTA) updates that bundle legitimate system updates with PHAs," wrote Google in its Android Security and Privacy Year in Review 2018.
Despite a rise in PHAs, Google says the number of those threatening applications landing on Android devices actually declined by 20 percent last year. Indeed, just 0.08 percent of all Android devices were affected by PHAs during 2018.
While this is impressive, it is data that should be taken with a pinch of salt. The problem with Google's annual report is that it only charts applications that were downloaded from the Google Play Store. Sure, most apps end up on Android devices via the store, but there are other stores and places users can download apps from. Google does not keep data on PHAs from these less secure services.
It is also worth noting that Android is now on over 2 billion devices around the world. That means 0.08 percent of devices Google says were affected by PHAs in 2018 amounts to over 1.6 million smartphones affected, a pretty large number.
In terms of specific regions, Google says India has shown a security improvement on Android devices. In the platform's "biggest market", security threats and exploits are frequent, but improvements are being made in India.
For example, Indian Android devices became 35 percent cleaner throughout 2018 compared to 2017, with only 0.65 percent of handsets affected by PHAs at a single time. In fact, Google says Indonesia is now the leading nation in terms of PHA spread.
Despite steps in the right direction in India, the country remains the most likely to receive Android trojan attacks, with 22.4 percent of all global cases.