Google introduces panic button to fight malicious apps

Google introduces panic button to fight malicious apps [Image: xijian via iStock]

Google has implemented a security feature in its Android mobile operating system that will allow users to exit a malicious app.

The so-called ‘panic detection’ feature has been introduced into Android Nougat 7.1.

XDA Developers, which discovered the new feature, explained that it is alerted to multiple back button presses in succession then returns the user to their home screen. It pays particular attention to how many times the back button is pressed in a certain time period.

This allows it to differentiate a normal back button tap from the four presses needed to activate the feature. Panic detection will see 0.3 seconds per tap as a sign that something is wrong and will then override the app.

This makes it safer for users who may have unknowingly downloaded a malicious app. Often, according to XDA Developers, these apps can prevent a user from exiting, which may be the result of an accessibility service being implemented, letting the malware intercept key events.

Google has made it possible for Android to override the application and return the user to the home screen. It is presumed that they will then be able to uninstall the malicious app from the launcher.

XDA Developers said Google kept the development quiet because they don’t want to show one of the ways they are fighting malicious software.

Android is one of the mobile operating systems most affected by malware. According to research by G DATA, cyber criminals develop a malicious app designed for Android every 17 seconds.

Google therefore has a fight on its hands to keep its Android users safe from this kind of malware. Allowing them the chance to override the software is one way of achieving this.