Research analyzed Google Play Store to be Android devices' main distributor of malware

On smartphones, Android is the most popular operating system. This means that, relative to any other mobile operating system, it also gets the most apps and software downloads.

The sheer amount of app downloads on Android devices also makes them vulnerable to malware and viruses that every now and then can slip in with app downloads.

This claim is now backed by a report by NortonLifeLock and IMDEA tech institution in Madrid, as it says that the Google Play store is found to be the largest distributor of malware on Android smartphones.

Google Play Store accounts for 67.2 per cent of malicious apps installed on Android phones, according to the report, reported on the SemanticsScholar website. This study points out is due to the number of Google Play downloads.

Over a four-month span, the researchers at NortonLifeLock and IMDEA recorded data from 7.9 million apps from 12 million Android smartphones to come to their conclusion. Entitled 'How did it get into my phone? The study says that third-party app stores account for just 10.4 per cent of malicious app downloads.

Unauthorized App Delivery on Android Devices. The study also points out that 10 to 24% of Android users experience at least one unintended download of an app.

The analysis compares Play Store downloads, alternative markets, web browsers, programmes for commercial pay-per-install (PPI), instant messaging, and seven other outlets. 87.2% of total app downloads on Android come from the Google Play Store, it says.

This sheer volume of downloads is also why the Google Play store created 67.5 per cent of instals for malicious applications. Now, this does not mean that dangerous apps are allowed by the Google Play store or that its safety measures are not stringent enough.

The research points out that the vector detection ratio (VDR) of the Play store is still the lowest relative to other outlets. The VDR of the Play Store is just 0.6 per cent, better than all other wide distribution vectors.

Thus the protections of the Play market against unwanted apps work, but massive quantities of unwanted apps can still circumvent them, making it the key distribution vector for unwanted apps, the researchers said.

In addition, the study said that a total of 5.7 per cent of downloads are represented by alternative app markets, of which 10 per cent were unwanted instals. In addition, instals from backups constitute 2% of the total instals, of which 4.8% were unwanted install.

The cumulative downloads for package installers came to 0.7 per cent, with 10.5 per cent of them being unwanted instals.

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