Google tapped security companies ESET, Lookout and Zimperium to help it screen new apps for malware prior to their publication, extending efforts to keep harmful apps out of its Play Store.

The so-called App Defence Alliance will cross-reference data from Google’s Android malware detection software and the trio’s threat scanning systems to generate “risk intelligence” to spot bad apps before they launch.

In a blog, Dave Kleidermacher, VP of Android security and privacy, explained the alliance partners were “hand-picked” based on their history of successfully identifying threats using machine learning and static-dynamic analysis. He added the use of “multiple heuristic engines working in concert will increase our efficiency in identifying potentially harmful apps”.

The decision to team with third-party security companies comes as Google wages an ongoing battle against bad apps. In June, analysis by RiskIQ determined suspect apps accounted for around 6 per cent of all those available in Play Store.

Google already enlisted the help of developers to help stem the tide, launching a new bounty programme in August offering rewards to companies which help it identify Play Store apps that abuse customer data.