Android 8.0 Oreo Will Protect You from Installing Harmful Apps

Among the new features arriving with Google's latest mobile operating system update, Android 8.0 Oreo, is a new defense system against malware trickery when installing apps from outside of Google Play.

Officially named during Monday's coast-to-coast solar eclipse, Android Oreo is being rolled out via over-the-air updates to users with Pixel, Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P smartphones, with the Pixel C and Nexus Player to see updates "over the next several weeks," according to Google. Other new Android devices that support the OS are expected to begin arriving at the end of this year.

Unlike previous versions of Android, Oreo offers boosted protection against accidental downloads and installation of apps from untrusted sources. Users will still be able to install applications from sources outside of the Google Play Store and other first-party sites, but they must first grant specific permission for such actions.

Defends against 'Deceptive Behavior'

Android 8.0 Oreo adds new defenses against common malicious app tricks by eliminating the previous "allow unknown sources" setting in favor of a new permission to "install unknown apps." The new permission ensures that the app source itself is checked before the software can be installed.

"A common strategy employed by PHA [potentially harmful apps] authors is to deliver their apps via a hostile downloader," Android security product manager Edward Cunningham wrote yesterday on Google's Android Developers Blog. "For example, a gaming app might not contain malicious code but instead might notify the user to install a PHA that masquerades as an important security update . . . Users who have enabled the installation of apps from unknown sources leave themselves vulnerable to this deceptive behavior."

The updated app precautions build on Google Play Protect, another security offering that rolled out in May. Google said Play Protect continuously scans the estimated 2 billion Android...

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