Your Android phone could soon protect you from phishing scams — here's how

Google Pixel 8 Pro held in hand.
(Image credit: Future)

The Android 14 QPR2 beta is here, with a number of new features for Android beta testers to try — and a glimpse at what could be coming in the near future. One of those possible future features appears to be designed to protect users from phishing scams.

This feature was uncovered by Mishaal Rahman at Android Police, who found a hidden page centered around “scanning for deceptive apps." Apparently this was in the Security section of the settings, under the option “More security & privacy”. Once enabled, this feature is supposed to “check app activity for phishing or other deceptive behavior”.

While these scans are done on your device, any deceptive behavior that is detected will cause some information to be sent to Google Play to “confirm the threat and warn app users."

Rahman notes that because this feature hasn’t been officially revealed, details on how it works are pretty scant. However, his deep diving into the beta’s source code found that there’s a new system called “ContentProtection”, that seems to be built to detect when apps are trying to show password fields or asking for related information like usernames, emails or phone numbers.

android 14 qpr2 beta scanning for deceptive apps feature

(Image credit: Mishaal Rahman / Android Police)

Apparently this seems to be Android using a blocklist system to ensure these kinds of fields aren’t used on certain apps. Rahman says that it looks like Android is also able to check whether an app is a system app or if it has to request permission to access the Internet.

It’s definitely a good thing that Android may be taking a more proactive approach to user security. As angry internet commenters have loved to tell me, there are inherent insecurities in Android’s ability to sideload apps from third-party sources — particularly if you’re not careful about where they’re coming from.

Similarly, it doesn’t matter how careful or tech savvy you may think yourself to be; it’s incredibly easy to fall for a phishing scam. Whether it’s down to social engineering, phony login pages that are deviously accurate, or the fact you’re having an off-day and slip up without realizing. Even if it only saves one person from a sketchy app or service, that’s still a win.

Considering this feature is hidden in the Android QPR2 beta, and likely isn’t working properly yet, we’re probably going to have to wait to actually get this protection on our phones. It may not even arrive as part of Android 14, and could end up being saved for inclusion in Android 15. Stay tuned. 

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.