The developers of the
Android platform have something rather special in mind that will go a long way to prevent malware from infiltrating the barriers of your mobile
devices. Beginning with Android 4.2, a Verify app system was
created that watches for new apps — especially ones that are side-loaded (not installed from the Google Play Store). This real-time app
scanning service instantly scans an app (upon installation) for suspect
malware. 

If you go to Settings | Security, you’ll find the entry called Verify
apps (Figure A). When it’s enabled, Verify apps will warn you before you install any app that may cause harm.

Figure A

 

 

Verify app settings on a
Verizon-branded Motorola Moto X.

Once your Android device was upgraded to 4.2, this opt-in service should have
prompted you the first time you installed an app. However, it didn’t really prevent malware from getting onto the
devices. Since the release of 4.2, the onslaught of malicious software has
increased significantly, because the Verify app feature really only bothered with
side-loaded applications. Google must have assumed every app in the app store
was safe, but we know this isn’t true.

Soon, the Verify app system will
extend beyond initial install and continue to monitor your device for malware.
This means that when a new threat is discovered, your Verify app system will update and check your device against that threat. If it discovers malware, it
will alert you. This will work in conjunction with another verification system
(one on the Google Play Store servers), so the protection against malware
should see a significant improvement.

When will this happen? That is the
big unknown. Google says that it will arrive in a future Google Play
Store update. My guess is that they’re making sure this system, which continuously scans for malware, isn’t going to do the
one thing most Android users are concerned with — that is, further drain the device
battery.

In this case, I don’t think users should be concerned.
The battery life of most phones has improved enough that the additional layer of
security gained by such a system will be well worth what extra drain the
real-time Verify app will add. But, if you’re really
concerned about yet another service running, fear not — the Verify app is
currently an opt-in solution and will probably remain as such.

I’m all for Google making the
Android platform as secure as possible. I also firmly believe that they can
pull off such a feat without insisting an Apple-level lockdown on their users.
You’ll still have the freedom to disable Verify, but I’m certain — as malware
continues to rise everywhere — that you’ll want to keep it running.

Is Google right in taking Android
in this direction? If you had control over the situation, what would you do to
prevent malware from reaching Android devices? Share your opinion and thoughts in the discussion thread below.