With the malware epidemic growing increasingly aggressive, people are becoming more concerned about 3rd party apps stores, now more than ever. Unfortunately, Aptoide belongs in that category. A lot of users have expressed their concerns about the possibility of downloading apps from app stores that corrupt their gadgets.
Malware downloaded from third-party applications may cause someone to take control of your device. It might give hackers access to private data like your passwords, financial accounts, or even contacts. This article sheds light on what you need to know about third-party app stores like Aptoide. It also highlights the risk of installing apps from third-party app stores.
What is a Third-party Application?
Before discussing why installing third-party apps is risky, let’s talk about how to identify a third-party app. A third-party app is a software application designed by someone who isn’t the manufacturer of a device or its OS.
A typical case is app development companies or individual developers designing a lot of applications for iOS or Google OS. Manufacturers like this also create apps for their own devices. Apps designed by manufacturers like this are referred to as first-party apps. In other words, “native apps.”
However, most of the apps people use are often third-party apps. So for instance, a colleague of yours develops an app that counts as a third-party app. Now, it’s easier to tell the difference between a native app and a third-party app.
Is it Safe to Download Apps from Aptoide?
Since ZDNet reported leaked information of 39 million records of Aptoide users, people have remained skeptical of this third-party app store. Accounts created between July 21, 2016, and January 2018 were reported to have had their private data leaked. The data leaked included Email addresses, IP addresses used when signing up, device details, and real names.
These files were obtainable online in a PostgreSQL export file as when reported. The dilemma about this was that nobody knew what data could be harvested for by other bad actors.
People majorly visit Aptoide and other unofficial third-party app stores to look for apps they can’t find on official stores. For example, geo-restricted apps or apps that don’t meet Google Playstore or Apple’s App store requirements can be downloaded through third-party app stores. But such liberality comes with great costs and risks.
So, while you may find it exciting that Aptoide exists, you also should consider the risks of using it. Hence, the dangers of using an app store like Aptoide are:
Risk of Mobile Malware
A newly discovered fraudulent Netflix app is one of the many issues encountered when using third-party apps like Aptoide. One way to trick users into believing apps downloaded through this means is by displaying the real logo icon. When you try to open the app, it would disappear as though the app was uninstalled from the phone.
Without your knowledge, the app has already installed a Remote Access Trojan (RAT). This allows hackers to take over the victim device completely. With the access the RAT provides, malware programmers can exfiltrate files from the infected phone. Phone contacts can also be accessed and your messages read.
When you use third-party apps, especially as an employee, you are vulnerable to threats on the network level. Even though most enterprise networks are secure, networks employees connect to outside may not be; such as free coffee shop Wi-Fi.
Apps installed from these sources are prone to man-in-the-middle attacks as well as packet sniffing when using on unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Packet sniffing allows an attacker to see all of the data packets going to and from the victim’s device.
Hackers are Implementing New Attack Techniques
With the increase in the use of third-party apps in corporate networks, hackers have directed their energy to such companies. The main intention of these cybercriminals is to gain access to the enterprise data.
What makes third-party apps vulnerable to attacks is that their unverified standard is easily exploitable. Hence, it is a weak link in the cyber security realm especially in the mobile domain. These apps designed by third-party developers are being targeted, with access to services that deal with trusted data.
This could include employee data, strategic business plans, or documents. The vulnerability detection tools used by hackers are surprisingly becoming more advanced and automated. The technique used for this new attack include:
- The exploitation of app vulnerabilities with API access that is insecure.
- Stealing of sensitive data from apps that fail to adhere to best security practices.
- Gaining unauthorized access to the credentials of the developer through social engineering.
How Do I Stay Safe While Using Aptoide or Other Third-party Apps?
One way to minimize risks from third-party app stores is to avoid them. You can still download from official app stores and your device will still pick malware. So, how do you keep your device safe from such attacks? Part of the responsibility relies on common sense, another part has to do with protective practices.
Hence, challenges involving keeping out infection from your device can be overcome this way:
- Using mobile security test tools. They check for the safety and cleanliness of the app to be installed. A popular and efficient one is Appknox. It whitelists the mobile apps used in the enterprise.
- Staying away from public Wi-Fi networks. This is because of their vulnerability to malicious sniffing. It’s a safe practice for companies to develop acceptable user policies, provide VPNs and connect to users through these channels.
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- Installing anti-malware tools like Avast, AVG, Bitdefender, Symantec, and so on is one way of keeping your devices safe. This is because, besides other protection practices, antivirus sits on your devices an additional layer of security.
- Researching the app’s developer can provide you information on whether they can be trusted or not. It’s recommended that you only trust well-known developers and platforms and download from the designated app stores.
- Observing the permission the app asks you before downloading it will go a long way to keep you from trouble. This is because some users inadvertently give away certain access to their private portals.
Downloading apps from untrusted sources like third-party app stores could be a huge risk to your device. It not only puts your personal or corporate data in jeopardy, but your digital device may also suffer in performance. It is always recommended you use trusted first-party apps or incorporate the safety practices provided in this post.