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Hollywood, MD– Your phone or tablet is probably loaded with a variety of apps but if you use an Android device you need to watch carefully at what apps you’re adding.

Cyber security experts are warning about “sideloading”. You’re probably familiar with downloading and uploading. Sideloading is another way to get data. It moves data from side to side, hence the name. For example, if you move data from a detachable hard drive to your computer, that is sideloading.

The reason sideloading is dangerous to Android devices is because you can sideload apps from another device to your Android. Other operating systems, like iOS, you can only get apps from an approved and designated source. Sideloading with Android basically allows you to bypass the official app market.

So why is this dangerous? The biggest threat is viruses. This is the most common way malware is spread through Android devices. Hackers are also taking advantage of the fact that Android users are sideloading their apps. This increases your risk of getting viruses even more and could void the warranty for your device.

Most malicious apps are from outside of the Google Play Store. Google doesn’t vet applications before they appear on the Play Store, but they do perform automated scans to see if apps are malicious. If you install an app from the Play Store and it’s later discovered to be malicious, it can be remotely removed from your device. Attackers will try to distribute dangerous apps outside the store so they can get around this protection.

How can you be sure an app is safe before installing it on your device?

1. When you buy or download an app from an official source, it’s certified. This means that it doesn’t contain malicious code that can hurt your device and its data.
2. Have an anti-virus program in place if you’re an Android user, since they’re the most likely to be infected.
3. If an app isn’t available on the Play Store you probably shouldn’t install it. If Android warns you about an app, uninstall it.
4. Watch for the permissions when installing apps. If an app you don’t trust requires too many permissions that should raise a red flag.
5. Check the reviews and the number of times an app has been installed. If an app has four-to-five star reviews and installed by more than a million users, you’re probably safe.
6. Verify the reputation of the app developer. An app made by Google is probably safer than an app made by some person you’ve never heard of.

Contact Joy Shrum at j.shrum@thebaynet.com

 

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