Google removed more than 700,000 Android apps from the Google Play Store last year, according to statistics provided by Andrew Ahn, Product Manager, Google Play, and this represents an increase of 70% over 2016.

Ahn says no less than 99% of the abusive apps were detected by the company’s own filters and were blocked before users were allowed to download them.

“This was possible through significant improvements in our ability to detect abuse – such as impersonation, inappropriate content, or malware – through new machine learning models and techniques,” the Google engineer says.

There were 100,000 developers that got banned last year, and Google says it identified three different types of applications that are trying to make it to the Play store despite violating policies.

Malicious apps

First of all, it’s the copycats, which impersonate famous apps in an attempt to trick users into downloading them on their devices.

“They do this by trying to sneak in impersonating apps to the Play Store through deceptive methods such as using confusable unicode characters or hiding impersonating app icons in a different locale,” Ahn says, adding that more than a quarter of million of such apps were blocked last year.

Apps pushing inappropriate content are another big problem, Google explains, as they promote content like pornography, extreme violence, hate, and illegal activities. Tens of thousands of apps that fall in this category were pulled thanks to the Google Play Store detection systems.

And last but not least, Google says it reduced the number of Potentially Harmful Applications (PHAs) by 50 percent last year. These apps can run malicious activities like conducting SMS fraud, acting as trojans, or phishing user’s information. “While small in volume, PHAs pose a threat to Android users and we invest heavily in keeping them out of the Play Store,” Ahn states.

Google promises to increase its focus on security this year, pointing out that its goal is to make Google Play “the most trusted and safe app store in the world.”

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