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Tech Talk: Google will subject new app developers to rigorous checks

Android developers new to Google’s phone platform could have the publication of their apps delayed for days as more rigorous checks are done on coders.

According to the BBC, Google said it was stepping up checks on app-makers it had not seen before to curb “bad faith” developers. These malicious developers often create new accounts to avoid Google’s checks, it said. Others hijack existing accounts to exploit the good reputation which established developers have accrued.

A cyber-security company said it expected the move to “have a positive impact”. “We find that malware authors often change their account information to conceal their identities,” commented Cybersecurity expert Kristy Edwards. She added that one malware creator had been found to have used 707 different ID codes to try to evade detection.

The “more thorough” checks will be done on application creators who do not have a “track record” with Google, wrote Sameer Samat, Product Manager for Android and Google Play.

Google would be taking days to investigate developers who open new accounts to see if they have links to “bad faith” developers who have a history of making malicious and unsafe apps, he said. It was common to see such developers try to “game” Google’s systems to get around the existing controls, he said. “App developers seeking to abuse the PlayStore, or make malicious apps, would have their accounts blocked. Humans would make the final decisions on blocks and suspensions,” Samat added.

The closer look at developers follows other changes Google has made to its policies which have forced app makers to disclose what data they want to gather and restricts access to some features on phones.

It has also insisted that app makers ensure their programs work with the latest, most secure versions of Android’s application programming interfaces (APIs). Currently, app makers are supposed to target at least Android 9’s APIs, which was released in August 2018.

In addition, said Google in a separate statement, the extra checks would help limit abuse of the personal information people surrender to apps.

“Users want more control and transparency over how their personal information is being used by applications, and expect Android, like the platform, to do more to provide that control and transparency,” it told the BBC.

The increased scrutiny of developers was part of a “comprehensive look” it was giving to Android’s platform and policies, it added.

Google’s app developer changes come just ahead of its annual developer conference IO that is due to take place on 7 May 2019.

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