Since half of the common issues are solved via mobile apps, we all need every single one that can get us what we need. But, sometimes, to avoid paying for upgrades and to get some app that isn’t available in the region, we opt for third-party alternatives. That’s when we surf through unauthorized third-party app stores to get the alternative app for what we were originally looking for. But, these sources, since aren’t recognized and are not reliable, there is a high possibility for the apps from these third-party app stores being malicious and harmful for your cell phones. If infected, your phone can be hacked for remote access or its data can either be stolen or wiped out. In both cases, it’s you who’ll lose at the end. So instead of giving up your login details, credentials, and personal details to some hacker, it’s better to learn about these app stores and avoid your phone and the information in it being hijacked.
Third-Party Apps: They Aren’t All Malicious
There’s a misconception that third-party apps refer to any application downloaded from any source other than the app store designed and managed by the developers of the operating system. But that’s not true. There are hundreds of apps that are available for download on your OS-based app store. Third-party apps mean any app that is developed by any individual or group of app developers, who haven’t been associated with the owners of the operating system or the device manufacturer during the entire phase of the development of that particular app. For example, fan-favorite mobile game PUBG is developed by Tencent Games, however, it’s available for download on Google Play Store App and Apple Store. This makes PUBG a third-party app, authorized for official downloads by recognized app stores.
What are Third-Party App Stores?
Well, you know Google and Apple. They have app stores on the phones running on their respective operating systems that are, Android and iOS. There are millions of third-party apps across platforms, however, they still stand-out as the preferred medium for downloads over other stores. Reason? Safety and total reliability over the security of personal information saved on users’ cell phones. Both Google and Apple are big brand names and all developers wish to pass their apps on their app stores for better reach and credibility. But, to do that, these developers are required to abide by strict rules set by these companies to ensure that the concerned app does not violate the safety of user information, users’ personal sentiments, and basic decency.
Contrarily, the third-party app stores, which you can find on throughout the web, aren’t as good at safety as Google and Apple. There are next to zero control over the app developers and there is probably no testing of the apps for potential malware. It can be possible that an entire store like this is designed with the intention of inflicting malware into users’ devices. This puts a variety of user data saved on the phone at risk, including:
- Device Information such as IMEI Number
- Information saved on browsers
- Hijacking mails for more addressed to prey upon
- Phone Numbers
- Addresses and Locations
- Private chats and media files
All of these things can impact you very critically if fell into wrong hands.
But, It Doesn’t Mean that Google and Apple are the Only Ones
Google and Apple may be big names, but that doesn’t make the other smaller ones completely unreliable. For instance, Google isn’t available in Chinese market, and therefore, there is a completely different app store availing the consumers with all the services they need. In fact, a number of companies have their own Android-based OS already in market including OnePlus and Xiaomi, whose OS is based on Android Open-Source Project. Huawei, on the other hand, has been planning to launch its own OS after the US-ban.
So, it’s true that apps on Google Play Store and Apple Store are more famous and credible. Apart from these there are a few app stores which are regularly used by consumers.
How to Protect Yourself from Risks of Third-Party App Stores
To protect yourself from the potentially malicious apps available on third-party app stores, you are required to keep a few things in mind:
- Do not download third-party app stores or third-party apps individually from any site on the web. Look out for HTTPS security on the domains of such sites and read terms and conditions carefully.
- Do not click on any advertisements of such app stores on any websites; or any attachment of this kind sent to you via mail. These advertisements can infect your operating system even before you commence the download.
- Turn on “Install Apps from Unknown Sources” option in your phone’s settings menu. Though Apple Store has this feature in-built by default, you can always have access to third-party apps on Android-based operating systems. This feature helps you identify apps from unknown sources if you proceed for downloads.
- Restrain from downloading from torrenting sites and hack-apps for applications like Instagram. These apps violate the terms of their original versions and cannot be trusted.
While you can keep these things in mind to save yourself from malicious third-party app stores, it’s always better to keep additional security using mobile security tools. Systweak Antimalware is an Android-based tool that helps users protect their cell phones from malware.
- Systweak Antimalware scans your phone for risky files and third-party app backups.
Note: This app has been discontinued.
- It also scans the apps which access your data to operate such as Maps, Social Media apps, and retail apps.
- It has an in-built scanner for third-party apps or the apps downloaded for outside app stores.
- Under its real-time protection feature, you can have regular monitoring of your phone. In real-time protection, Systweak Antimalware prevents the launch of potentially risky apps and malicious programs.
Third-party app stores may grant you access to various apps without payments; however, it would be a major risk to the information carried on your device. It’s important that you as a user know of the risks associated with such stores and ensures that no malware infect your cell phones. While you can be vigilant in this regard keeping the above suggestions in mind, you can protect your phone by downloading Systweak Malware. This tool would help you keep a check on your phone and would scan it for malware, while you carry out your tasks without stress.
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