Google’s Advanced Protection Program is designed to protect users against any targeted attacks or unwanted risks with a stronger set of protections. Users have to use hardware security keys and sacrifice some freedom for that level of security. Well, as per the latest Play Store APK teardown, a new protection feature that ‘prevents sideloading of apps’ on Android phones may soon be announced as part of the Advanced Protection Program.
9to5Google recently dug into the code of the latest version (#17.8.14) of the Play Store and it includes several references to the app blocking feature. When you try to install an app with this feature enabled, the Play Store will return the notification – “For additional security, Advanced Protection won’t allow apps from outside the Google Play Store.”
The code further reveals that Advanced Protection will require APKs to be scanned before they are sideloaded on an Android phone. This will be a precautionary measure for users who are not willing to give up sideloading practices, which means most of us reading this.
Now, before you start calling out Google for shutting down the one feature that makes it the preferred choice for many users, I would like to assure you that the restriction won’t directly affect how Android works. The company is just trying to make the platform more secure for users who opt-in for the additional security measures (will be available for all Android users but enabling it will be optional) that come bundled with the Advanced Protection Program.
With malware and spyware use on the rise, this is an essential measure on Google’s part and one that will safeguard users against random apps or malwares that sneak on the device via apps installed from outside the Play Store. Once you opt-in, the new feature will scan the APK before you sideload the app or completely block the APK being installed on your Android phone for additional security.