Google, the multinational technology company, has recently made public its plans to test a new protective measure against applications that are utilized for carrying out financial frauds. These applications are typically downloaded from sources other than the Google Play Store. The new measure involves an analytical process that blocks the installation of the application if it identifies potential misuse of permissions.
According to the ‘Global State of Scams’ report published in 2023, financial fraud has caused users to lose a staggering one billion dollars. This report also reveals that at least 78 percent of mobile users became victims of such scams in the past year. The extent of the issue highlights the urgent need for more robust protective measures.
Financial scams often employ social engineering techniques to trick victims. This could involve sending urgent messages warning of a potential risk or offering the chance to quickly obtain a reward. These tactics can cause the victim to let their guard down and neglect security measures, leading them to share sensitive information like digital account credentials or even transfer money.
In response to this growing issue, Google has decided to test an enhanced fraud protection feature on Android through Play Protect. This feature will initially be launched in Singapore in the forthcoming weeks, as stated in Google’s Security blog.
This advanced protection will come into play when a user attempts to download an application from a source other than the Play Store. It will automatically scan the application and block its download if it identifies that the application “may use sensitive runtime permissions that are frequently abused for financial fraud”.
Specifically, the protection measure will focus on four permissions: SMS reception, SMS reading, notifications, and accessibility. These permissions will be analyzed in real time because fraudulent applications often misuse them to “intercept one-time passwords through SMS or notifications, as well as to spy on the content of the screen”.
From the user’s perspective, an information screen will appear notifying them about the blocking of the application installation. A brief explanation regarding the reason for the block will be provided.