New Machine Learning to track Malicious apps on Google Play

Google’s latest machine-learning algorithm can help spot intrusive apps that demand access to user data that they don’t even need.
According to google, most android apps are developed to make life easier for us, and for this to occur, we have to grant them access to the data that they need. For instance, a camera app needs access to the camera sensor just as a navigation map needs access to the GPS sensor. Well, what if a writing app you just downloaded asks for access to your location, contacts, and microphone – precisely the permissions that it shouldn’t need. Those are usually intrusive and unsafe apps, but the issue is, they can be hard to spot given the large number of apps that are available in the Play Store.
“To protect our users and help developers navigate this complex environment, Google analyzes privacy and security signals for each app in Google Play. We then compare that app to other apps with similar features, known as functional peers. Creating peer groups allows us to calibrate our estimates of users’ expectations and set adequate boundaries of behaviors that may be considered unsafe or intrusive. This process helps detect apps that collect or send sensitive data without a clear need, and makes it easier for users to find apps that provide the right functionality and respect their privacy” google added.
One way to create app peer groups is to create a fixed set of categories and then assign each app into one or more categories, such as tools, productivity, and games. However, fixed categories are too coarse and inflexible to capture and track the many distinctions in the rapidly changing set of mobile apps. Manual curation and maintenance of such categories is also a tedious and error-prone task.
Read: 12 great apps that serve as document scanners on your mobile phone
To address this, Google developed a machine-learning algorithm for clustering mobile apps with similar capabilities.

While it’s also important for you to pay close attention to what kind of permissions you give to each app you install, it’s reassuring to see that Google is doing its part to minimize the number of intrusive apps in the Play Store.

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