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Avast Academy Security Other Threats A Guide to APKPure: Is It Legal and Is It Safe?

A Guide to APKPure: Is It Legal and Is It Safe?

APKPure offers a variety of apps for Android users that may not be found on Google Play. While this means more freedom and flexibility in terms of app choices, there’s also a greater risk of finding malicious, fake, or even illegal apps on the platform. Read on to find out what APKPure is, how safe it is, and why installing a security app like Avast One is essential for protecting your digital life.

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Written by Crissy Joshua
Published on September 22, 2023

What is APKPure?

APKPure is a website where you can download open-source Android applications, files, and games. Unlike on Google Play, APKPure lets you install country-specific apps outside your location, plus you can find restricted or discontinued apps and games. While the APKPure App Store claims to verify apps, the general lack of security protocols means that apps available on APKPure could contain vulnerabilities like malware.

The APKPure App lets you install country-specific apps and restricted or discontinued apps and games

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    Who created APKPure?

    APKPure was launched in 2014 by APKPure Team, who created the store to host a wide array of free or shareware apps. Despite some security concerns, it is the oldest and most popular alternative to Google Play.

    Is APKPure legal?

    APKPure is legal, but the site may contain illegal content, such as cracked or pirated apps. In cases like these, APKPure could be infringing on copyright laws for any apps that are published without the knowledge or permission of the original owner.

    What happened to APKPure?

    In April 2021, APKPure was infected with trojan malware that flooded users with adware. The issue was quickly identified and APKPure released a new version to remove the malware. However, the trojan malware had already infected countless devices.

    Instances like this can happen at any time because third-party app stores such as APKPure lack the robust security offered by official app stores like Google Play or Apple’s App Store.

    So, is APKPure safe to use?

    While APKPure claims to verify apps before publishing them — by matching each app’s digital signature to the original — the platform lacks the robust security measures of official app stores. That’s why we recommend downloading apps only from official app stores like Google Play.

    While you need to be careful whenever you download apps, use app permissions wisely, and protect your device with the best online security software, downloading apps from third-party app stores presents unknown risks, because app security isn’t as strongly tested as it is on official platforms.

    There are two major reasons why APKPure is not as safe as official app stores like Google Play:

    1. APKPure apps aren’t subjected to the same security protocols and regulations as those on Google Play. That means there’s a higher chance that apps available for download on APKPure could contain vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit.

    2. APKPure is open-source software, meaning that anyone can upload APKs, some of which might be fake apps that install viruses or other malicious software on your phone.

    By contrast, Google Play has strict guidelines that require all apps to be published by the developers. In 2022 alone, Google’s security guidelines and app review processes helped it block 1.43 million bad apps from being published on Google Play. They also banned 173,000 bad accounts — including many identified by Avast’s experts — and fended off over $2 billion in fraudulent and abusive transactions.

    That’s a great example of why developers must undergo lengthy and detailed verification processes before Google approves and publishes their apps. APKPure publishers don’t have to abide by all the strict guidelines or go through these verification processes.

    APKPure: Pros and cons

    Pros

    Despite the potential security threats, APKPure offers a variety of benefits, making it the most popular third-party app store for Android users. Some benefits include:

    App availability and flexibility

    APKPure can offer a wide variety of apps because it is not tied to Google in any way.

    If a developer wants to offer their apps and services while remaining independent from Google, they can use third-party platforms like APKPure to do so. That means that there are far more apps available on APKPure than on Google Play, including restricted or discontinued gaming applications.

    APKPure also lets developers bypass Google’s gatekeeping, allowing them to test and tweak their services in a sandboxed environment.

    Install country-specific apps

    APKPure lets you bypass geo-restrictions and download apps from anywhere in the world.

    Google Play’s offering is based on a user's location, meaning that some apps based in different countries and regions are restricted. Sometimes this can be due to minor things such as language preferences, other times they may be restricted due to marketability concerns, censorship rules, or political issues. APKPure doesn’t have any geo-restrictions, allowing you to download apps from any country or region.

    APKPure can give you access to apps that aren't available in your location on Google Play Store

    Access to app version history

    APKPure offers descriptions of every app’s version history, allowing users to access the full archive, from the latest version to an older legacy edition. This can be great for users who might have preferred certain features that an app offered before it was updated.

    Get updates faster

    Before an app update is released on official stores, it usually has to pass strict tests and verification processes. APKPure does not apply such vetting processes, meaning that updates are released much faster. Of course, without going through heavy testing, these updates may not be safe.

    Cons

    Many of the reasons why Android users turn to APKPure are the same reasons why the platform is risky.

    Lack of app restrictions

    As mentioned above, Google restricts certain apps, sometimes due to security concerns. Google Play is much better at detecting these potential threats thanks to its strict security measures. That also means that apps rejected by Google Play can end up on APKPure.

    Lack of age restrictions

    Unlike official app stores, anyone can download age-restricted apps on APKPure. Because of this, third-party app stores are not suitable for children. Some age-restricted apps also come equipped with online tracking to target users with specific ads that aren’t appropriate for children. Use official app stores like Google Play (or Apple’s App Store if you have an iPhone) to keep your children safer online.

    Security vulnerabilities

    Over time, apps are updated to fix, or “patch,” security issues. Downloading older versions that are available on APKPure can be risky because older app versions can have outdated defense mechanisms against online threats, or specific vulnerabilities in their code that could allow hackers access to your phone.

    Protect your device from harmful apps with Avast One

    While APKPure is not as safe as an official app store, no app store or site is completely immune to cyberthreats. Given the right permissions, almost all apps can access data and information stored on Android devices. This is why it’s so important to use extra security measures to protect your phone and personal data.

    Avast One features built-in privacy tools, such as a VPN and data breach software, to help strengthen your privacy, encrypt your communications, and protect your data. Install Avast One today to get ironclad security for your device.

    Protect against suspicious apps with Avast One

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    Other Threats
    Security
    Crissy Joshua
    22-09-2023