Introducing App Reputation For Android Apps

McAfee has always been in forefront of finding new ways for securing our customers against threats and risks posed with mobile device. As part of this quest, we have introduced the concept of app reputation as part of our latest release of McAfee Mobile Security (MMS)(Ver 3.1) released on 18th July 2013. From a consumer perspective, we have empowered our twin features of security and privacy by app reputations in this release.

What is app reputation?

We assign a rating to an android app based on two vectors of trust (security) and privacy (data exposure). As part of trust (security), we measure the amount of trust that could be attached to an app based on security considerations. Privacy (Data Exposure) reputation measures the propensity of an app to access/share and exposure personal data. These reputations are based on results of an automated analysis and is impacted by multiple factors including age, prevalence, source etc.

How is Trust (Security) reputation different than Privacy (Data Exposure) reputation?

While the concept of security is same across all users, risk to an individual’s privacy is appreciated differently in different culture. Further more, unlike safety and security which are intuitive to most of us, concept of privacy is a trained behavior leading to different responses to privacy risks based on an individual’s context. At McAfee, we appreciate this and it reflects in our design. Hence privacy reputation’s goal is to provide information and avoid taking a uniform decision for all users unlike what we do in trust reputation.

As the following screenshot indicates, we provide the data exposure score range, category score range, our observations about the app and information related to ad-libraries.

App Reputation

Ok, then what are Notable apps?

Notable Apps are those behaving outside of their category normal behavior. We understand that some categories of apps have a need to access more personal information than others. So for e.g. a social media or a communication app would have a better case for accessing personal data than for a calculator app (productivity). So if a calculator apps tries to access personal data normally not accessed by other apps in its category, it may be classified as a notable apps.

PS:- This is the first blog in a series of posts on app reputation. :-)

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