The App Defense Alliance, a collaboration between Google, ESET, Lookout, and Zimperium, was created to ensure the safety of the Google Play Store.
The Android ecosystem is thriving with over 2.5 billion devices, but this popularity also makes it an attractive target for abuse.
Google aims to quickly find Potentially Harmful Applications (PHAs) and take the appropriate action to protect users.
As part of this Alliance, Google is integrating the Google Play Protect detection systems with each partner’s scanning engines. Partners of the App Defense Alliance can send a request to the Google Play Protect scanner service to have an app analyzed. The GPP scanner service then sends back the scan results directly to the partner. This direct communication also allows GPP to send requests to partner’s scanner services and receive results from the partner’s scanning engines. This will generate new app risk intelligence as apps are being queued to publish. Partners will analyze that dataset and act as another, vital set of eyes prior to an app going live on the Play Store.
Like Google Play Protect, Google's partners’ technologies use a combination of machine learning and static/dynamic analysis to detect abusive behavior. Multiple heuristic engines working in concert will increase the efficiency in identifying potentially harmful apps.
A recent report by malware researcher Lukas Stefanko found 172 harmful apps in the Play Store with more than 335 million combined installs, including apps containing hidden adware, stalkware, subscription scams and banking trojans.