Adrian Ludwig joined Google six years ago. His job: ensuring the security of a few hundred million Android devices. Today, he’s overseeing more than 1.6 billion Android devices… and they’re more secure than ever.
The Android ecosytem is also incredibly diverse. Ludwig and his team don’t just have a handful of smartphones and tablets to protect. Google’s OS is running on everything from phones to laptops to set-top media players made by scores of different manufacturers.
There’s Android malware out there, of course. Google’s stats show that around 0.5% of all Android devices encountered a PHA (potentially harmful application) in 2015. That number dropped sharply when you factor in one of Android’s most basic security protections. When users don’t turn off the “unknown sources” setting and stick to installing apps and games from Google Play, just 0.15% ran into a PHA.
PHA numbers remained flat this year, and Ludwig is confident that they’ll actually fall in 2017. “It’s not an accident that bad things aren’t happening,” he told me in a phone conversation.
Making good security decisions the default has helped. Take encryption, for example, which first appeared in Android 5.0 three years ago. Ludwig said around 1% of all Android users encrypted. Across all the Android 7.0 devices out there today, more than 80% are encrypted.
One of the best ways to keep your device secure is keeping the software installed on it up-to-date. Google’s relationships with device makers and wireless carriers — more than 350 of them around the globe — are stronger today than they’ve ever been. Because Google has made it easier to deploy and maintain apps, updates are being pushed out much more rapidly.