Here’s Android 4.2 Security feature that scans apps for harmful code. Don’t forget to activate it!

Android 4.2- the latest flavor of Jelly Bean would be debuting on the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 a few days from now. We have already seen the notable features and improved functionality that it will include, and in some cases, have even got a chance to try out a couple of system apps like the new Gesture based Android keyboard, the redesigned Camera app with Photosphere mode and the Desk Clock.

Along with all of these new features, Google has also introduced some significant changes in the way security is handled on the platform. Typically these are not things which are visible at the front-end or at the UI level, but the fact is that Android 4.2 includes a powerful new security system integrated right into it. Read on to know more about how Android 4.2 will be a safer and more secure system.

App Scanning Service.

This service is the key component of the Android 4.2 security system, which scans all side-loaded apps, or apk files, the moment they are added to your device, for any malicious code that may prove potentially harmful for your device.  Side-loaded apps are defined as all apps that are not downloaded from the Google Play Store. They may include apps downloaded from alternative sources such as the Amazon AppStore, as well as stand-alone apk files that are transferred to the device for manual installation.

The feature is based on the same concept as the Play Store Security scanner, which scans all apps uploaded to the Play Store for harmful code. The only difference is that the Play Store scanning happens at the server end, while this happens totally on the device. Of course, like most things Android, the OS allows you to enable or disable this service at any point. Whenever you sideload an app, your phone sends identifying information about the apk to Google’s servers. Google’s servers analyze the info and trigger the following actions on the device –

  • If the app is found to be a known safe program – Installation continues uninterrupted
  • If the app is identified as dangerous – the system prevents installation (This is supposedly a very, very rare scenario)
  • If the app seems suspicious, but without any definite threats identified – System alerts the user, and user decides whether to proceed or not.

All of this happens seamlessly, and instantaneously at the backend, and the manual app installation process does take any longer than it used to before Android 4.2 hit the scene.

New App Permissions Screen

The app permissions screen  has received a makeover, and is now provides more relevant information, along with being easier to read.

SMS Confirmation Alerts

An additional layer of security which operates behind the scenes, and throws up a notification whenever an app tries to automatically send a text message to a fee-collecting shortcode  The system throws up an alert, and the user can choose to allow or deny the activity – similar to what Superuser does on rooted devices. Regular texts that you send manually, are intelligently identified as user-approved, and pass through uninterrupted.

That’s all we have for now on the new integrated security features in Android 4.2. November 13th is just a few days away, and a 4.2 update, at least for the Nexus 7 and the Galaxy Nexus can’t be all that far away either. While most average users may not really care about anything beyond the most used apps/features on a phone to be bothered about security, those that do would surely sleep better knowing that their device is secure.


  1. wait till google decides to block sideloading an app banished from playstore by blacklisting it

    1. Oh, that would be cruel. Hope el goog remains the lovely el goog and never does it, especially when they are working so hard to tighten up security anyways.

      1. NVM that it is supposed to be opt in ,for not at least , and that is when i tried to delete the comment and it became posted by guest ?

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