Google has introduced a handful of Android-related security measures at present as the corporate seems to plug any crucial gaps in its working system, which is utilized by billions of smartphone customers world wide. More particularly, the web large is seeking to higher safeguard the Google Accounts most “at risk” from malicious apps — these owned by activists, CEOs, journalists, politicians, and extra.

Back in 2017, Google announced a security-focused program referred to as Advanced Protection, designed to guard Google Accounts that could be extra weak to techniques resembling phishing scams. That program launched usually availability final yr. The program is constructed round three key safety elements — it offers phishing safety by requiring a bodily safety key to entry a Google account by way of two-factor authentication (2FA); it limits third-party apps’ skill to entry Google apps; and it requires further verification steps to cut back the possibilities of somebody getting access to an account by way of impersonation. Since launch, Advanced Protection has expanded to cowl Apple’s native iOS apps, in addition to the Chrome browser.

Moving ahead, Google Accounts enrolled within the Advanced Protection program will now have two extra options enabled to defend in opposition to malware. One of this pertains to Google Play Protect, a machine learning-powered safety service that scans apps put in by way of Google Play for malicious habits. Launched back in 2017, Google Play Protect is on by default on all Android gadgets that ship with Google Mobile Services (GMS), which mainly means most Android gadgets outdoors of China (although one notable exception is new Huawei gadgets, that are now not allowed to make use of Google’s apps or companies after a U.S. ban was imposed final yr.)

While Google Play Protect is already on by default for many Android gadgets, it may be deactivated manually by way of settings, which some customers might do if they need extra management over which apps they will set up with out Google intervening.

Google makes Play Protect mandatory in Advanced Protection program, blocks non Google Play apps

Above: Google Play Protect can presently be deactivated by most customers.

Now, nonetheless, those that have signed as much as the Advanced Protection Program will have to make use of Google Play Protect — if the characteristic is presently switched off, it is going to be switched on routinely, they usually received’t be capable to flip it again off once more.

Google makes Play Protect mandatory in Advanced Protection program, blocks non Google Play apps

“We’re now automatically turning it on for all devices with a Google Account enrolled in Advanced Protection and will require that it remain enabled,” mentioned Roman Kirillov, engineering supervisor of Android safety and privateness, in a weblog submit.

Restrictions

Google will even prohibit apps that may be put in from outdoors the Play Store. While Google can exert management over which apps may be added to its app retailer and monitor them, it has little say over apps which might be put in by different means — resembling side-loading or by way of third-party app shops. That’s why it’s now stopping customers with a Google Account enrolled within the Advanced Protection program from putting in apps by way of any avenues apart from Google Play.

There are exceptions to this rule. For instance, some Android telephones ship with different app shops preinstalled, as per their licensing preparations, and people gadgets will likely be unaffected. Moreover, apps put in by way of Android Debug Bridge will likely be high-quality, whereas apps which have already been put in on the system will stay and obtain updates.

It’s value noting that G Suite customers who’re enrolled within the Advanced Protection Program received’t obtain these new options for now. But there are different methods firms can allow comparable performance of their workforce — for instance by stipulating by way of their endpoint management console that workers can’t deactivate Google Play Protect, or by putting in apps from outdoors Google’s Play Store.

For everybody else signed as much as Advanced Protection, these modifications will begin rolling out from at present.