Downloading an app that does not come from a certified app store; we all have done it or at least know someone who has. While the reasons may vary and range from simply wanting to use a different app store to finding a pirated copy, the consequences can be the same and significant.
The term “sideloading” refers to downloading and installing any app from outside the devices primary app store. As this practice becomes more popular, the risk level associated with it also increases substantially.
Once you have downloaded an infected sideloaded app, the malware inside the app runs in the background, doing damage you may not notice for weeks or even longer. A recent malware campaign discovered over 1 million Android devices have become infected by sideloaded apps since August and compromises about 13,000 devices each day1. Once on your device, this malware can access your personal information such as passwords, login credentials or other sensitive data that is kept stored on the device, leading to potential identity fraud.
As you try to decipher which apps are safe to download, these tips can help to protect your device from dangerous malware.
- Use Trusted App Stores. While the app you want to download may not be available on your devices main app store, you can reduce your risk of becoming infected by malware by downloading the app from another trusted source such as Amazon or Humble Bundle. If you decide to use a different third party, you open the door for possible malware.
- Scan And Verify Apps After Downloading. Most mobile software allows the option of scanning installed apps for harmful malware. By allowing this process to run, you can catch any potential malware and remove it before damage can be done.
- Update Device Software. As inconvenient and time consuming as it can be, running software updates can be vital in keeping your device secure. As malware is discovered, device manufacturers release software updates to patch security issues that have developed as a result of malware in sideloaded apps. Running these software updates can block malware if an infected app is ever downloaded onto your device.
While malware continues to develop and cause threats, it is important to be proactive in protecting your device and your identity. With InfoArmor’s® PrivacyArmor®, if we find any of your compromised data on the dark web, we will notify you promptly and our Privacy Advocates® will help to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.