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Downloading and Installing APK Files Could Put Your Business at Risk

Downloading and Installing APK Files Could Put Your Business at Risk

Your Android smartphone is a computer in and of itself; as such, it runs with an operating system installed. You install programs on your smartphone the same way you install them on your computer, although the process is more complicated. Today, we want to explain the types of files that the Android operating system uses to install apps on your phone, as well as why it might be a good idea to let the Google Play Store do the hard work for you, in terms of locating and installing apps.

How APK Files Work with Your OS

The Android OS uses APK files to install applications. Like the installation packages you might see for a desktop computer, these APK files contain all kinds of data. The APK will contain not only the code for the app but also the resources and assets it will use to run on your device. When you open the APK file, it will install the app on your Android device.

APK was once the standard file format for Android apps before 2021, but nowadays, the AAB, or Android App Bundle, is the preferred option because it will create APKs specifically for your device. Additionally, AAB files allow developers to distribute apps that are not quite ready for the general public just yet, either because they aren’t finished or not on the Google Play Store. It can also be a great way to download previous versions of apps or those removed from the Play Store.

Sideloading Apps is a Bad Idea

If an app developer wants to distribute their content to the Google Play Store, they need to stick to fairly strict requirements and agreements. Part of this process is ensuring that there are adequate security and safety checks against the apps. 

Suppose an application is “sideloaded” or installed from a location aside from the Google Play Store. In that case, you can’t take advantage of those security checks to ensure nothing malicious is at play with your download. Therefore, you should never download and install an APK from an unknown source.

It’s also a bad idea to download an unauthorized, altered, or cracked application, too, as you could be involved in illegal behavior that violates copyright laws. You should engage in ethical business practices that do not support these methods.

How You Can Install APK Files (with a Word of Caution)

You should never install APK files on your Android device without first notifying your IT department of your intentions. They will undoubtedly want to test the app to ensure it’s safe before you try sideloading it. In any case, you shouldn’t install an app to your device without first asking IT anyway, let alone sideload them.

If you’re curious about the process, installing an APK file is easy—perhaps alarmingly so. All you have to do is download the file and open it to get started.

Your settings might warn you about the potential security risks associated with opening the file. You can get around this though by making some adjustments in your settings app, namely the toggle under Install Unknown Apps. You just change this to Allow Permission and tap Install.

Don’t Neglect Your Security

Installing unknown apps is a fairly common way for a network to become a victim of a cyberattack. Don’t let your business fall into the same trap. Contact the technology experts at JensenIT with any security concerns.

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