Android Security State of the Union 2014

We’re committed to making Android a safe ecosystem for users and developers. That’s why we built Android the way we did—with multiple layers of security in the platform itself and in the services Google provides. In addition to traditional protections like encryption and application sandboxes, these layers use both automated and manual review systems to keep the ecosystem safe from malware, phishing scams, fraud, and spam every day.

Android offers an application-focused platform security model rooted in a strong application sandbox. We also use data to improve security in near real time through a combination of reliable products and trusted services, like Google Play, and Verify Apps. And, because we are an open platform, third-party research and reports help make us stronger and users safer.

But, every now and then we like to check in to see how we’re doing. So, we’ve been working hard on a report that analyzes billions (!) of data points gathered every day during 2014 and provides comprehensive and in-depth insight into security of the Android ecosystem. We hope this will help us share our approaches and data-driven decisions with the security community in order to keep users safer and avoid risk.

It’s lengthy, so if you’ve only got a minute, we pulled out a few of the key findings here:
  • Over 1 billion devices are protected with Google Play which conducts 200 million security scans of devices per day.
  • Fewer than 1% of Android devices had a Potentially Harmful App (PHA) installed in 2014. Fewer than 0.15% of devices that only install from Google Play had a PHA installed.
  • The overall worldwide rate of Potentially Harmful Application (PHA) installs decreased by nearly 50% between Q1 and Q4 2014.
  • SafetyNet checks over 400 million connections per day for potential SSL issues.
  • Android and Android partners responded to 79 externally reported security issues, and over 25,000 applications in Google Play were updated following security notifications from Google Play.

We want to ensure that Android is a safe place, and this report has helped us take a look at how we did in the past year, and what we can still improve on. In 2015, we have already announced that we are being even more proactive in reviewing applications for all types of policy violations within Google Play. Outside of Google Play, we have also increased our efforts to enhance protections for specific higher-risk devices and regions.

As always, we are appreciate feedback on our report and suggestions for how we can improve Android. Contact us at [email protected].