Google Play Protect is here to kill those useless Android antivirus apps. Depending on the Apps that you use or the websites that you visit, you must have seen certain ads in form of warnings that your phone is at risk – or has been infected by a virus; that to remedy the situation you need to immediately install an antivirus software. You must have heeded the warning. You must have installed something like an AVG Antivirus for Android.
What you might not have realized is how useless any Android Antivirus is – or rather, how impossible it is for your Android device to get infected with a virus or any other suspicious program. Even without an antivirus, your Android device is secure for two reasons; first being the fact that the Apps in Google Play have already been vetted, and if for any reason there is a particular App that was approved into the Google Play store by mistake, then the App is not likely to last in the Play store for long. I bet if the App was to infect any device, that device won’t be yours.
The second reason is that by default, your Android device will not allow you to install Apps from unknown sources. To check this out, head over to Settings, Security, Unknown Sources. Depending on the version of your Android OS, you should see this warning when you press on the Unknown Sources:
When Apps installation from unknown sources is disabled, then any attempt to install an App outside of Google Play store or your OEMs play store (Samsung Play Store for instance) will not go through. There are a few times when you might need to install a specific App from a website, and in those very few instances you will go to the Settings, Security, and enable Unknown sources. Immediately you are through installing the unknown source App, ensure you have disabled Unknown Sources once again.
Back to the first reason where it is highly unlikely for an App from Google Play to infect you. An article published at Paloalto Networks on March 1st 2017 claims:
Recently, we have discovered 132 Android apps on Google Play infected with tiny hidden IFrames that link to malicious domains in their local HTML pages, with the most popular one having more than 10,000 installs alone. Our investigation indicates that the developers of these infected apps are not to blame, but are more likely victims themselves. We believe it is most likely that the app developers’ development platforms were infected with malware that searches for HTML pages and injects malicious content at the end of the HTML pages it finds. If this is this case, this is another situation where mobile malware originated from infected development platforms without developers’ awareness. We have reported our findings to Google Security Team and all infected apps have been removed from Google Play.
This is one of those warnings that you may not categorize, together with Extreme Tech, as scare tactics. As the last sentence in that quote says, they notified Google Security Team and the Security Team acted fast to remove the affected Apps. Although satisfying, such news are what drive many Android users to install one of the several useless Android Antivirus Apps to eat up unnecessary storage space, utilize the scarce RAM, and consume the already expensive mobile Internet data in the background.
As much as warnings that some Google Play Store Apps are malware infested are exaggerated, the truth is that to a negligible extent there are a few instances where a malware may find itself to your Android device via an infected App. It is this reason that has made Google to create and deploy Google Play Protect – a suite of services that rely on machine learning to scan Apps for potential threats during download and usage.
According to Google Play Protect ad by Google on YouTube, Google Play Protect works by scanning over a billion Android devices globally every single time and consequently monitoring the behavior of over 50 billion Apps installed in those devices. The machine learning algorithm in the Google Play Protect learns how the Apps typically behave in those devices, and after knowing what the normal behavior looks like it will flag any App that deviates from this normal behavior. Google Play Protect will go a step further and help you with uninstalling the flagged App(s).
Google Play Protect does not end there – if by bad lack your device is stolen, the Google Play feature will come in handy by working together with Find My Phone feature that has been helping many Android device owners since April last year.
And by the way, Google Play Protect is already part and parcel of your updated Google Play App. Don’t worry about updating the Play Store App, as the App always updates itself whenever there are new updates available.