SINGAPORE – Android users here will be blocked from installing apps from unverified sources, a process called sideloading, as part of a new trial by Google to crack down on malware scams.
The security tool will work in the background to detect apps that demand suspicious permissions, like those that grant the ability to spy on screen content or read SMS messages, which scammers have been known to abuse to intercept one-time passwords.
Singapore is the first country to begin the gradual roll-out of the security feature over the next few weeks, done in collaboration with the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore, according to a statement on Feb 7 by Google, which develops the Android software.
The update will progressively arrive on all Android users’ devices and will be enabled by default through Google Play Protect, said Google’s director of android security strategy Eugene Liderman, in reply to questions by The Straits Times.
Users who are blocked from downloading a suspicious app will be notified with an explanation.
Users cannot deactivate the pilot feature without disabling all of Google Play Protect, said Mr Liderman, adding that deactivation of the program, which scans Android devices for harmful behaviour like suspicious apps, is not recommended for user safety.
The update, which will be automatically activated, will roll out to all Android devices with Google Play services – a security program built into Android devices that scans for potentially harmful apps – here, starting with a small number of users to assess the effectiveness of the tool, he said.
Sideloaded apps can come in the form of apps used by overseas businesses that do not use the Google ecosystem, to device customisation tools and free versions of paid apps.
The feature marks Google’s most heavy-handed feature to stamp out malicious sideloaded apps.
Samsung, which runs on Android, also launched Auto Blocker for Samsung Galaxy device users who are using the One UI 6 software in November. The tool, which has to be activated in the settings menu, bars sideloaded apps from unverified sources.
So basically they are citing user safetly to limit what you do on your phone and enforce their marketplace monopoly. Something both Apple and Google have been slammed with explicitly in the EU and US as part of antitrust lawsuits – which they have lost.
Of course, Google Play Protect is itself spyware – everything it scans (which is your whole phone) is sent to Google without an opt out. So you can decide to stop this insanity by disabling the Google Spyware.
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