Google’s Advanced Protection Program Now Disallows Users From Sideloading Third-Party Apps
Google's Advanced Protection Program has been around for quite some time. Chances are, you might not have heard about it because it is an opt-in service that is used mostly by enterprise users to secure their companies devices. Even regular home users can use it, though. In addition to the protections offered by Google Play Protect, Advanced Protection Program beefs up your phone's security by limiting which apps can access your personal data, make 2FA mandatory for all linked Google accounts, limiting third-party apps that can be sideloaded to the device. Earlier, we stumbled upon hints that suggested that a future iteration of the Advanced Protection Program would disallow users from sideloading all third-party apps to their devices. That change is in effect as of today. According to Google's blog post:
As an added protection, we’re now blocking the majority of these non-Play apps from being installed on any devices with a Google Account enrolled in Advanced Protection. You can still install non-Play apps through app stores that were pre-installed by the device manufacturer and through Android Debug Bridge
With the new protections in place, users can only sideload some apps to their devices using ADB, and the only non-Play Store apps allowed on the phones will be the ones sideloaded by the OEM. Looks like the bloatware is here to stay for now. While it isn't terribly difficult to use ADB, it will discourage a lot of users from attempting to sideload potentially malicious apps to their phones. Just recently, a third-party app masquerading as a COVID-19 tracking solution was found to be infecting phones with ransomware.
Once again, these changes only affect users who are enrolled in Google's Advanced Protection Program. Regular users will not be affected by the change in any manner. If you want to enroll in the program, go to this link and follow the on-screen instructions. The changes mentioned above will go in effect starting today and will make its way to Chrome later this year.