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Google's latest weapon vs Android malware? Humans


Meet Google's latest weapon in its fight against malware on its Android mobile platform: humans.
 
Google Play product manager Eunice Kim said this was among the updates to improve the experience for both developers and users on Google Play, Android's app store.
 
"Several months ago, we began reviewing apps before they are published on Google Play to better protect the community and improve the app catalog. This new process involves a team of experts who are responsible for identifying violations of our developer policies earlier in the app lifecycle," Kim said in a blog post.

Better than Bouncer?
 
Security researcher Graham Cluley noted Google had tried to filter out malware from Google Play with automated technologies like Bouncer.
 
Bouncer was programmed to analyze and kick out malicious Android apps before they were published on Google Play.
 
"The quality of Bouncer has often been in question, because of the continued success malware authors and scammers have had in managing to sneak their toxic apps into the marketplace, and flaws found by security researchers which revealed how it was possible to bypass checking entirely," he said.
 
"Let’s ho(p)e that Google’s new approach of using human experts to examine apps submitted to the Google Play store will be more successful at protecting its many millions of users in future. It’s probably too early to say that this will be the end of malicious content being published in the official Android marketplace, but it sounds like a step in the right direction," he added.
 
Meanwhile, Kim said Google will continue to help developers get their products to market within hours after submission, rather than days or weeks.
 
So far, she said there has been no noticeable change for developers during the rollout of this feature.
 
Also, Kim said Google has also improved how it handles publishing status.
 
"Developers now have more insight into why apps are rejected or suspended, and they can easily fix and resubmit their apps for minor policy violations," she said.
 
Also, she said Google had paid more than $7 billion to developers and is excited to see the ecosystem grow and innovate.
 
Rating system
 
Meanwhile, Kim said Google has rolled out a global age-based content rating system for Google Play, based on industry standards.
 
"We know that people in different countries have different ideas about what content is appropriate for kids, teens and adults, so today’s announcement will help developers better label their apps for the right audience. Consistent with industry best practices, this change will give developers an easy way to communicate familiar and locally relevant content ratings to their users and help improve app discovery and engagement by letting people choose content that is right for them," she said.
 
Kim said developers can now complete a content rating questionnaire for each of their apps and games to receive objective content ratings.
 
"Google Play’s new rating system includes official ratings from the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) and its participating bodies, including the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), Pan-European Game Information (PEGI), Australian Classification Board, Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle (USK) and Classificação Indicativa (ClassInd). Territories not covered by a specific ratings authority will display an age-based, generic rating," she said.
 
Starting May, she said all new apps and updates to existing apps will require a completed questionnaire before they can be published on Google Play. — Joel Locsin/TJD, GMA News
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