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How Google's app verification feature works

When Google "verifies" apps during installation on an Android device, what is it doing?

The app verification feature, an optional security-service-enabled default in recent versions of the Android operating system, sends data from your device to Google. The verification process is intended to block malicious or unsafe apps from being installed on your device. Apps that could expose your personal information or rack up unwanted financial charges are some of the types that are usually flagged.

If the app flunks Google's verification process, you will see a message saying something such as "Installing this app may harm your device." You do have the option to install it anyway, as long as you tap an on-screen disclaimer acknowledging that you know the potential dangers.

In some cases, Google may block the app outright, if the verification process shows that the app may be trying to exploit a security hole or another vulnerability within the Android operating system. If an app trips Google's alarms, your device displays an "Installation has been blocked" message.

Google recently updated its Verify Apps feature to not only police apps during the installation process but also to monitor them after the programs have been installed. If the Android system senses that a rogue app has slipped onto your device at some point (or is programmed to misbehave later), you will get an alert screen that recommends you immediately uninstall the offending app.

Although it is meant to be a security move — and not an invasion of privacy — Google can also remotely uninstall apps from your phone or tablet that have proved to be used for phishing or other malicious activity. Google's site has more information on the Android app verification feature and how it works.

How Google's app verification feature works 06/08/14 [Last modified: Sunday, June 8, 2014 8:06pm]
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