The Google Play Store may need a serious security upgrade

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Google’s Play Protect security service has fared poorly in an endurance test of Android security apps.

With the number of malware-laden malicious apps on the rise, AV-Test pitted 15 security apps to rate their ability to fend off such dubious apps.

“Included in the test as the 15th app in the mix was Google Play Protect, the protection app embedded in Android….But the endurance test revealed that this service does not provide particularly good security: every other security app offers better protection than Google Play Protect,” says AV-Test.

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Besides Google Play Protect, the test included the apps from AhnLab, Avast, AVG, Avira, Bitdefender, F-Secure, G DATA, Ikarus, Kaspersky, McAfee, NortonLifeLock,, securiON and Trend Micro.

Subpar performance

AV-Test put the 15 apps through an endurance test that lasted six months. They were evaluated in terms of protection, performance and usability, with six points for each category, for a total of 18 points.

Over half (9) of the apps managed to score a perfect score of 18, while four scored between 17.8 to 17.1, and one scored 16. Google Play Protect not just brought up the rear, but its measly score of six was a far cry from its peers.

It didn’t fare any better in terms of detecting infected apps. While a handful of apps managed to flag all of the 20,000 tainted apps for a score of 100%, Google Play Protect was once again last with a detection score of 68.8%.

Google Play Protect’s poor showing perhaps explains how threat actors are repeatedly able to inject malware laden apps into Google Play.

Meanwhile, Google continues to improve its privacy protection measures. Following its announcement to introduce Apple app store-like privacy labels, the makers of Android shared additional details about the upcoming safety section in Google Play.

Mayank Sharma

With almost two decades of writing and reporting on Linux, Mayank Sharma would like everyone to think he’s TechRadar Pro’s expert on the topic. Of course, he’s just as interested in other computing topics, particularly cybersecurity, cloud, containers, and coding.