Introducing App Reputation for Android Apps

McAfee has always been in the forefront of finding new ways to secure our customers against threats and risks posed by mobile devices. As part of this quest, we have introduced the concept of app reputation as part of our latest release of McAfee Mobile Security (MMS Version 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 expose personal data. These reputations are based on the results of an automated analysis and are 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 the same for all users, risk to an individual’s privacy is appreciated differently in different cultures. Furthermore, unlike safety and security, which are intuitive to most of us, the 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 the goal of privacy reputation 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

What are Notable apps?

Notable apps are those behaving outside of their category’s normal behavior. We understand that some categories of apps have a need to access more personal information than others. For example, a social media or a communication app would have a better case for accessing personal data than a calculator (productivity) app. 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 app.

This is the first blog in a series of posts on app reputation.