Google says it's stopped a ton of 'dangerous' Android apps

The company says it's gotten better at keeping potentially harmful apps from reaching Android's 1.4 billion users.

Rochelle Garner Features Editor / News
Rochelle Garner is features editor for CNET News. A native of the mythical land known as Silicon Valley, she has written about the technology industry for more than 20 years. She has worked in an odd mix of publications -- from National Geographic magazine to MacWEEK and Bloomberg News.
Rochelle Garner

Google wants you to know it's got your back, Android users. The company on Tuesday released its third annual Android Security Year in Review (PDF), a look back at Google's progress in keeping bad apps away from more than 1.4 billion users of its mobile operating software.

"In 2016, we improved our abilities to stop dangerous apps, built new security features into Android 7.0 Nougat, and collaborated with device manufacturers, researchers, and other members of the Android ecosystem," the company said in a blog post.

Screenshot by CNET

According to the report, Google's Verify Apps security feature in Android ran 750 million daily checks last year -- 300 million more than it ran in 2015. As a result, the number of apps with trojans fell by 51.5 percent, "hostile downloaders" dropped by 54.6 percent, apps with backdoors declined by 30.5 percent and phishing apps fell by 73.4 percent.

The primary message Google wants people to remember: Only 0.05 percent of devices that had downloaded apps from Google Play -- and just Google Play -- had been infected by malware. That's compared with 0.15 percent in 2015.

Google says it's working with security firms to identify and fix issues that pose a risk to users. In addition, its Android Security Rewards program paid researchers nearly $1 million last year for reporting vulnerabilities.

Correction, 12:50 p.m. PT: The original version of this story got a number wrong. Google's review looks at efforts to protect more than 1.4 billion Android users.