Google's 'Bouncer' Protects Android Users
Article by George Norman
On 03 Feb 2012
As Android usage increases, the mobile operating system becomes an ever more alluring target for the bad guys. There’s already been a lot of talk among security experts about the fact that Android malware is growing considerably and starting to become a real nuisance.

Because Google takes security seriously and is keen on offering a trustworthy experience to all the users out there, it has taken steps to protect them from malware and other threats. And more to the point, Google has introduced a service codenamed “Bouncer” that automatically scans the Android Market looking for potentially malicious software.


While Bouncer is running, nothing changes for the user; the experience remains unchanged. The user gets to browse the Android Market and get apps just like he always did. Nothing changes for the developers either. They don’t have to go through an application approval process, they can publish apps just like they ever did. While Bouncer runs, new applications, existing applications, and developer accounts are analyzed for signs of wrongdoing.

Hiroshi Lockheimer, VP of Android engineering, explains how Bouncer works:
“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.”

Even though Google introduced Bouncer to the public this week, Hiroshi Lockheimer explained that the service has been running for some time and that between the first and second halves of 2011 the number of potentially malicious downloads from the Android Market fell by 40%.

The bottom line is that no security approach is 100% efficient, but Google is determined to provide a safe user experience and keep malicious apps away from the Android Market.

Tags: Google, Android, Android Market, Bouncer
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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