The Android Market Has Its Own Anti-Malware Tool, And Its Name Is Bouncer

There are plenty of anti-malware companies trying to scare the bejebus out of Android users, but Google wants to remind us that they have plenty of tools to keep malware at bay. Today Google revealed their automated scanning service, aptly named Bouncer, that constantly scans the Android Market for potentially malicious software. The Bouncer performs a set of analyses on all applications, new or old, as well as developer’s accounts. Hiroshi Lockheimer, VP of Engineering, explains the process over on the Google Mobile Blog:

once an application is uploaded, the service immediately starts analyzing it for known malware, spyware and trojans. It also looks for behaviors that indicate an application might be misbehaving, and compares it against previously analyzed apps to detect possible red flags. We actually run every application on Google’s cloud infrastructure and simulate how it will run on an Android device to look for hidden, malicious behavior. We also analyze new developer accounts to help prevent malicious and repeat-offending developers from coming back.

He goes on to point out that malware on Android has in fact decreased (despite anti-malware claims) and that Android was built from the beginning to withstand such attacks. Android’s core security features include:

  • Sandboxing: The Android platform uses a technique called “sandboxing” to put virtual walls between applications and other software on the device. So, if you download a malicious application, it can’t access data on other parts of your phone and its potential harm is drastically limited.
  • Permissions: Android provides a permission system to help you understand the capabilities of the apps you install, and manage your own preferences. That way, if you see a game unnecessarily requests permission to send SMS, for example, you don’t need to install it.
  • Malware removal: Android is designed to prevent malware from modifying the platform or hiding from you, so it can be easily removed if your device is affected. Android Market also has the capability of remotely removing malware from your phone or tablet, if required.

So while there will always be not-so-nice people trying their best to disrupt our friendly ecosystem, we should feel confident in knowing that Google is behind the velvet rope keeping the malware miscreants out.