Apk files can certainly contain viruses or other malware. The greatest risk is posed by APK files distributed outside the official Google Play Store because they are not checked for security.
Virus-infected APK files usually contain suspicious files as well as unnecessary permission requests. Furthermore, these APK files tend to consume battery and data. Please note that unreliable developers are the source of these files.
How APK Files Can Get Infected with Malware?
There are a few ways legitimate APK files can get infected with viruses or malware:
Attackers take a legitimate app, inject malicious code into it, and then redistribute the infected version under the same name. This takes advantage of the trust in the original app.
2. Third-Party App Stores
Many third-party app stores do not thoroughly vet the APK files uploaded to their platform, which provides an opportunity for malware authors to distribute infected APKs.
3. Phishing Sites
Fake or compromised websites distribute infected APK files while pretending to offer a legitimate app. This tricks users into downloading malware.
4. Social Engineering
Malware authors create fake apps or games that appeal to users, then bundle hidden malware inside the APK file. This takes advantage of people’s tendency to install apps without checking them thoroughly.
Signs an APK File May Contain Malware
There are a few signs that can indicate an APK file is infected:
- Originates from an unknown or untrusted source
- The app requests unnecessary permissions
- Different digital signature than the official app
- Much smaller file size than expected
- Negative reviews mentioning malware or spam
Malware authors are sneaky, so sometimes there are no obvious signs. That’s why it’s critical to carefully check any APK file before installing.
Protecting Yourself from Infected APK Files
Here are some tips to avoid malware from APK files:
- Only install APK files from official app stores like Google Play whenever possible.
- Before installing any APK, research the source and only download from trusted sites.
- Scan the APK file with up-to-date antivirus software before installation.
- Check app permissions and avoid those that seem suspicious.
- Install a malware scanner to check for infections after installing an APK.
- Keep your Android device and security apps up-to-date.