Do you really need it?

For Android users, installing apps from the Google Play Store and only from the Google Play Store is a wise choice. With its strict security rules, tracking of applications, numerous user reviews and supervision of security researchers, the official store is a relatively safe place to download applications. Even when the malware enters the Google Play store, it is quickly detected and removed.

Android device owners, however, have the ability to download and install apps from independent sources. But it also involves certain risks.

On the one hand, the ability to download an app outside of the Google Play store can be very useful. Not all apps are available in the Google Store. On the other hand, that freedom comes with an increased risk of infection, because outside of the Google Play app, they lose Google’s control over quality and safety.

Dangerous applications can steal users’ personal data, money or both.

Here are just a few examples of such attacks:

All of the above are examples of why phones come with external software installation disabled. To avoid falling victim to scams that rely on the installation of applications from external sources, do not allow the installation of unknown applications, and if you have done so, disable such installations.

In the latest versions of Android, the relevant feature is called Install Unknown Apps and is enabled separately for each app.

If you have allowed installation from unknown sources for some applications, you can disable it separately for each application. Here’s how to do it:

  • Open the settings on your device;
  • Select Applications and notifications;
  • Select Advanced and go to Special Access application;
  • Select Install unknown applications;
  • Check out what is listed below each app installed on your phone. If you see Allowed, select an application from the list and disable the installation of unknown applications.
  • Keep in mind that manufacturers often change the standard Android interface, so some menu items may have different names.

In Android 7 and older, the settings are called Unknown Sources, and there is only one switch that turns on or off the installation of non-Google Play apps for the entire system. Here’s how to find it:

  • Open the system settings on your device;
  • Go to Security;
  • Scroll down to Unknown Sources and make sure this option is disabled.

At first glance, managing this setting seems much easier in older versions of Android, but from a security standpoint things are not that simple. If you accidentally allow the installation of unknown applications on Android 6 or 7, then any application can download malicious files, and this includes applications that you install later.

What if the app you need isn’t available in the Google Store, but you still need to install it? Here is what Kaspersky experts advise in this case:

  • Look for similar apps in the Google Play Store. There may be an app on Google Play with features that suit your needs.
  • Scan file before installation – before downloading, scan the downloaded installation file using mobile antivirus.
  • Check permissions! If the application requires too much, try to find something similar with more modest requirements.
  • Lastly, don’t forget to restore the settings after installation. Do not leave your phone open for malware!

Source: Kaspersky

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