TECH

Android Phones Are Much Safer Than They Used To Be, Google Says

That's a relief.

Every now and then, a piece of nasty malware worms its way into Google's Play store and onto people's Android devices. But Google says that downloading programs from the app marketplace has gotten a lot safer over the last year.

The tech giant seriously beefed up efforts to stop harmful apps form winding up the Play store in 2015, according to the annual security report the company released Tuesday. Google now scans 6 billion apps and 400 million devices every day in search of harmful malware. It also improved its machine learning algorithms that sniff out potentially harmful programs. 

All of these changes have made users safer, Google says.

"Overall, [potentially harmful apps] were installed on fewer than 0.15% of devices that only get apps from Google Play," Adrian Ludwig, the lead engineer for Android security at Google, wrote in a blog post summarizing the report. 

Shoppers at the Play store are now about 40 percent less likely to download a harmful app. They're also 40 percent less likely to accidentally download software that can steal their data, and 60 percent less likely to download spyware. 

While the Play store has never been the most perilous corner of the Internet, Google has struggled with app security in the past. In 2013, researchers discovered 35 malware-infected apps in the Play store, and in early 2015, a Russian-language IQ test app infected between 5 and 10 million Android phones.

CONVERSATIONS