One more noteworthy feature snuck its way into Chrome 86. It's a small change, but it should help make a further dent in the growing problem of notification abuse. In this latest release, sites known for abusive notification content (things like distributing malware or falsely scaring users with fake system messages) will get the same silent treatment as sites that try to trick users into enabling notifications.
According to a report by Reuters, researchers at Awake Security uncovered a new spyware campaign that threatened the security of Chrome users. Google removed the more than 70 offending extensions from the Chrome Web Store last month after being alerted to the malicious activity, but not before they were downloaded 32 million times by unsuspecting users.
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Earlier this year, a story madetherounds about a new kind of malware afflicting Android handsets. But it was this malware's pernicious nature that really made headlines, as it could even survive complete factory resets on afflicted phones. This insidious malware was named xHelper. At the time, we didn't know how it managed this impressive (but scary) achievement, but security researchers at Kaspersky have since dug into its inner workings, revealing an incredibly sophisticated system that installs itself to an Android phone's system partition, and even changes how the system works to prevent it from being "easily" removed.
As if the COVID-19 outbreak itself wasn't bad enough, there are also criminals exploiting people looking for guidance in this time of fear and misinformation. A malicious Android app has popped up that promises to help you track coronavirus cases near you and globally, but it's just a scheme to get some ransomware on your phone.
Gmail's spam and malware filters are among the best in the industry and block 99.9% of threats from reaching inboxes, according to Google. That doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement, as 0.1% can scale up to quite a substantial absolute number considering Gmail's big user base. Google has identified that malware in attachments (Office documents, in particular) tends to be dangerous due to its ever-changing nature, so it has developed an improved malware scanner that utilizes machine learning to stay ahead of the curve.
Windows is very far from a perfect operating system, but it's hard to complain about the built-in Defender antivirus. It generally doesn't disrupt the user experience, works well, and has largely eliminated the need for third-party antivirus programs on Windows PCs. Now Microsoft wants to bring Defender to... Android?
With recent scam apps incidents in mind, it might look like Google isn't very good at keeping malware and fraud out of the Play Store, but the company is hard at work to allow as little in as possible. It has shared today that thanks to security advancements, it could keep more than 790,000 policy-violating apps from entering the Play Store, and has also prevented more than 1.9 billion malware installs from sources outside of its distribution platform in 2019.
Google isn't good at keepingmalware out of the Play Store. Even though the company has announced an App Defense Alliance to strengthen its Play Protect Scanner, a few scam apps have once again managed to slip through and are ripping off unsuspecting UK Android users. Some of the applications are currently among the top free apps on the UK Play Store and promise movie streaming at no cost, but sign up users for a subscription service via their phone bill.
Twitter and Facebook have both been targeted by malicious mobile SDKs on Android that accessed personal data, such as email addresses and user names. The companies have since informed Google about the issue, and Facebook sent cease and desist letters to the data collection firms behind the SDKs, oneAudience and MobiBurn.
Google has always maintained that its own Play Store security mechanisms were strong enough to keep your devices safe from malware and other bad actors, but this was proven wrong again and again and again. Thus it makes sense that the company has announced the App Defense Alliance, a partnership with ESET, Lookout, and Zimperium that aims to stop bad apps before they can reach anyone's Android devices.