The official store for Android users to download apps has been identified as the main distribution vector for malware. This is according to a recent report.
After researching the main source of app installs on more than 12 million Android devices between June and September 2019, Google Play Store stands out as the main distribution vector for Android malware.
The team analyzed over 34 million APK installs for 7.9 million unique apps using telemetry data provided by NortonLifeLock (formerly Symantec).
Compared to other sources that users can install apps from, the Google Play Store was ranked #1 in malicious app installs. Google Play, the team fund out, accounted for 67% of malicious app installs.
Only 10% of malicious installs came from third-party Android app stores. Other modes of app installations on Android include Web downloads, pay-per-install (PPI) services, backup restoration, bloatware, and IM tools.
Furthermore, between 10% to 24% of total apps analyzed could be classified as malicious or unwanted apps.
“An analysis of the who-installs-who relationships between installers and child apps reveals that the Play market is the main app distribution vector, responsible for 87% of all installs and 67% of unwanted app installs, but it also has the best defenses against unwanted apps,” the report reads.
As we’ve seen in many instances in the past, most troublesome apps have been found on the Play Store even as Google ramps up efforts to crack them down. Just two weeks ago, Avast’s security team listed 21 adware gaming apps found on Google Play Store. The openness of the Android ecosystem and its popularity has made it’s a prime target for attackers.
Google has been a bad gatekeeper, and that’s clearly shown by its decline to respond to a request for comment on the issue sent by a ZDNet three weeks ago.