With the App Defense Alliance, Google Play Protect might actually keep malware off your phone

Google has announced a new alliance to augment its inadequate Play Protect malware detection system.

Credit: Michael Simon/IDG

While Android has come a long way in its fight against so-called “bad actors” in the Play Store, Google isn’t able to stop every malicious app from making its way inside. So it’s stepping up its efforts with the formation of a new App Defense Alliance with some of the biggest name in mobile security.

The partnership brings Google, ESETLookout, and Zimperium together to augment Android’s Play Protect malware scanner that’s been in effect since Android 8 Oreo. Built to run in the background, Play Protect regularly scans the apps in the Play Store and installed on your phone for known malware and alerts users to their existence.

The only problem is, it’s not very good. According to AV-Test’s bi-monthly antivirus review, Play Protect scores dead last in protection and usability, identifying just 55 percent of the latest Android malware attacks versus the industry average of 97 percent.

The new App Defense Alliance looks to boost that number. As Google explains in a blog post, it will be “integrating our Google Play Protect detection systems with each partner’s scanning engines. This will generate new app risk intelligence as apps are being queued to publish. Partners will analyze that dataset and act as another, vital set of eyes prior to an app going live on the Play Store.” That should make it much more powerful in tracking, targeting, and stopping malicious apps before they have have a chance to infect your phone.

Google says it “hand-picked these partners based on their successes in finding potential threats and their dedication to improving the ecosystem.” The new system will use a combination of use a combination of machine learning and static/dynamic analysis to pinpoint bad actors before they can hit the Play Store. Google doesn’t say whether the new system will also work locally on individual phones, but if Google can stop malware from reaching the Play Store in the first place, we shouldn’t have to worry as much about the apps on our phones. 

It’s unclear from the blog post when the new system will go live, but presumably it will take effect via an upcoming Play Store firmware update.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Michael Simon

Michael Simon

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?