For many people, third-party app stores are a great place to sideload apps on Android especially for getting apps that are not available on the Google Play Store. However, these app stores can put you at risk of losing your personal data given not all these APK files will be safe.
Google Play Store and the Apple App Store are the safest places to download apps, but that doesn’t mean these platforms are free from all kinds of harmful applications as well. To stay safe from malicious apps you need to be extra careful and keep some things in mind.
Keep a mobile security protection
“There is no way to find out if you have a malicious app on your device or not unless you have some sort of mobile security protection,” Venugopal N, Director of Security Engineering at CheckPoint India told the Indianexpress.com in an interview. He emphasised on the need to install a mobile security feature on a smartphone as we do on a laptop.
However, the Google Play Store now shows a ‘Play Protect’ symbol next to apps which it has verified as being as safe, so always be sure to look for that as well when downloading an app.
Avoid using third-party app stores
As already mentioned, even though the Google Play Store and Apple App Store may feature malicious apps, the risk is highest on the third-party app stores. If you are trying to install an app that is not available on Play Store, proceed only if you trust the app. It is advised that you do not try to download paid apps that are available for free on these third-party app providers.
The restrictions for app developers are reportedly the highest on the Apple App Store so there are less chances of you finding a malicious app there. Comparatively the regulations are not that tight on the Google Play Store, though Google has been cracking down a lot more on malicious apps.
Other tips to stay safe
Even if you are using only the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store to install apps, always read the app description before you download a new application. Also, pay attention to the permissions asked by the app before you tap on allow.
If you are still not sure, spend some time reading the reviews of the device. Also do not be swayed by only positive reviews, as sometimes these could be paid. Check the website of the developer as that it is an option that Google Play Store has at the bottom of the description for each app.