Google starts blocking users from sideloading certain apps in SingaporeReading Time: 2 minutes
To reduce financial scams, Google has started a new program to prevent users from sideloading certain apps in Singapore. The company is looking to block sideloaded apps that abuse Android permissions to read one-time passwords received through SMS and notifications.
Google said there are four sets of permissions that bad actors exploit to commit financial fraud. According to the company’s survey, most of these apps are sideloaded, which are installed onto the device manually — not through the Play Store.
‘These permissions are frequently abused by fraudsters to intercept one-time passwords via SMS or notifications, as well as spy on-screen content. Based on our analysis of major fraud malware families that exploit these sensitive runtime permissions, we found that over 95 percent of installations came from Internet-sideloading sources,’ the company said in a blog.
The search giant said when a user in Singapore tries to install any such app, Google will automatically block the attempt with a message pop-up that reads: ‘This app can request access to sensitive data. This can increase the risk of identity theft or financial fraud.’
Google has developed this pilot in collaboration with the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) as part of its Play Protect program.
Since then, Google has expanded the real-time scanning feature to new regions including Thailand, Singapore, and Brazil.
With the latest announcement, Google alerted developers that their apps should not violate Mobile Unwanted Software principles and should follow guidelines.
Fraudulent loan apps have been a pain point for Google in geographies like India and Africa. In India, Google has to face scrutiny as predatory loan apps and their representatives have harassed people for repayment, driving some to suicide.
Last year, Google introduced a new policy to bar loan apps from accessing users’ photos and contact details.
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