Google removed over 700,000 malicious apps from the Play Store in 2017

There are a lot of excellent apps and games to be found on the Play Store, but to no one's surprise, it can also be home to some bad seeds, too. There were quite a few reports of malicious Android apps all throughout last year, but new numbers from Google reveal that things could have been a lot worse.

In just 2017 alone, over 700,000 malicious apps were removed from the Play Store. That's 70% more than what Google removed in 2016, and of that 700,000, 99% of the apps were taken down before a single user could install them. Similar to other products and services Google is involved with, a lot of this success can be attributed to the company's machine learning systems.

There were a few nasty app trends in 2017, and Google has more evidence to back up its claims of staying on top of all these. When it comes to malicious apps that try to impersonate legitimate ones, 2017 saw Google remove a whopping 250,000 of these. Tens of thousands of applications with inappropriate content (such as pornography and extreme violence) were also removed from the Play Store last year, and the install rate of apps that are bundled with malware was reduced "by an order of magnitude compared to 2016" thanks to Google Play Protect.

Being safe with what you install on your phone has a lot to do with common sense, but for those times when app developers go the extra mile to be sneaky and deceptive, it's nice to know that Google's security measures are getting stronger and smarter.

Google Play had 145% more app installs than Apple App Store in Q4 2017

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

  • That is a ridiculous amount of apps meant to due harm to users.
  • I tried searching but couldn't really find anything but does anyone know exactly how Google vets apps before they can be added to the Google Play Store? Can you just create an app, add it to the Google Play Store and then Google's software scans the app to make sure the app doesn't have anything harmful and that's all? I'm only asking this because it seems that Apple doesn't have nearly as many issues in this area. Yes I know apps can be harmful on all platforms and yes I know Android OS has far more users then Apple OS but it still seems insane to have so many apps needing to be removed. I know Google stopped these 700,000 apps from being installed which is great but it says that Google caught 99% of bad apps, that means that 7,000 apps weren't caught before they were installed...that's still staggeringly high to me.
  • When you upload an app to Google Play there is a window where it is there but not searchable, You can only reach it if you know the URL. Part of the reason is for Bouncer (Google's robot that tears apps apart and sees what they can do)to look at them before they are properly listed.
  • I was wondering the same thing. Wouldn't it be easier to just vet the apps BEFORE they're allowed in the store?!
  • My guess is that this is exactly what happened. When a bad app was uploaded to the store, it was scanned, found to be malicious, and deleted before it was ever made available to the public. This is likely what happens in the hour or so it takes an app to be made available after initial upload.
  • The 700,000 bad apps Google found in 2017 was an increase of 70% from the amount found in 2016 which is crazy! At this pace Google will find over a million in 2018 and even if only 1% makes it through and gets installed that's still a huge risk to consumers. One of the things I hate is how Google and sometimes Apple allows companies to put apps into their store that's an identical copy of the real app or they just slightly change the name so it fools people that aren't paying attention to the name. These apps shouldn't even be allowed in the app stores in the first place.
  • Yep. I should have scrolled down :)