Google has modified the device settings in Android 8.0 Oreo to make it harder to install potentially harmful applications. This change is one of the many recent efforts made by the search giant to make its operating system more secure. In the latest version of the OS, Android developers removed the toggle for installing software from unknown sources and the OS will now ask you for permission to do so on a per-app basis. This change is an attempt to stop one of the most common methods of malware distribution – hostile downloaders. Such downloaders often come in the form of games and other seemingly harmless apps which are hijacked by malicious developers to force the user to download a harmful app presented as an ordinary update.
This change provides users with more transparency and control, both of which are important in stopping deceptive behaviors and practices, Google states. Since the permission needs to be activated once the app is installed, consumers will be informed of the potential risks that accompany the software each time they download a new app from an unknown source. The settings screen for this permission warns that activating this toggle makes both the handset and data stored in it more vulnerable to attacks. It also states that the user is responsible for any damage ensuing from the misuse of the permission. In addition, the user has the choice of stopping apps from installing malware and other harmful files on a per-app basis by simply going to the device settings, Google revealed.
According to the Alphabet-owned company, malware installations due to hostile downloaders in 2016 have decreased by 54.6 percent compared to the same period in 2015. However, this change is an indication that there is still room for improvement in terms of securing both the operating system and end users. For the devices that will not receive Android 8.0 Oreo, there are still other measures that Google has implemented in order to stop the spread of mobile malware, with one of them being Google Play Protect, a service that scans smartphones in an effort to identify apps with any malicious code that may jeopardize the overall security of the device.