Google's New App Verification Service Misses The Mark

Google's new app verification feature built into to Android 4.2 (jellybean) is supposed to block malware before it gets downloaded from the app store, including Google Play. However, new research shows in its first 30 days the service is not quite ready.

According to a new paper, app verification "is implemented inside the official Google Play app, but is designed to work with apps from all app stores, including the official Google Play marketplace and other alternative ones."

Researcher Xuxian Jiang, Associate Professor in Department of Computer Science at North Carolina State University, said "we leverage[d] our prior Android Malware Genome Project and check whether the collected Android malware samples can be detected. We conducted our experiments on November 30, 2012, by using the same dataset of 1260 samples (belonging to 49 different families) that has been widely shared within the research community, including Google. Our study involves semi-automated installation of them on a few of latest Nexus 10 tablets (16GB) running Android 4.2 (build number:JOP40C)."

The result was disappointing, if you were hoping for a clear Google win.

source: An Evaluation of the Application ("App") Verification Service in Android 4.2

The blue bar at 20 percent is the new Google App Verification service, while the other bars, which vary from 50 percent to 100 percent, represent antivirus protection commercially available for Android 4.2. Based on this, one should wait before removing any existing mobile antivirus protection. It should be noted that Google has not added VirusTotal, an online collection of malware samples the search giant bought last September.