Security researchers at Malwarebytes has a new blog post up talking about the dangers of "sideloading apps," or bypassing the app store on your preferred Android-based device to install games. Malwarebytes say that this practice is "best avoided" because it makes it easier for malware makers to install something nefarious on your device.
Sideloading means installing an app onto a device by copying the APK installer (the package file format used to install application software onto Android), to manually install the app on your system – thus bypassing the app store. Users leverage this to get free games or games not available in the app store on their device. While Malwarebytes knows that doing this is a fairly common practice, but on some devices sideloading apps require the user to obtain root access on the phone, which can result in users ‘bricking’ their phones.
Researchers at Malwarebytes who tried sideloading also ran into an lot of malware hosted on file sharing sites, and aimed squarely at the mobile gamers’ devices.
"The dangers of downloading cracked games from file sharing communities has always been high, be it the possibility of getting caught with a stolen game or actually having downloaded malware that is now running on your system," said Adam Kujawa, head of Malware Intelligence at Malwarebytes. "This danger is now a very real possibility for users who want to install apps on devices that don't support the app stores you regularly use. While many developers are making it easier for users to run the apps they want (as they rightfully should considering how much these devices cost), it should be noted that straying from the trusted stores and networks is a dangerous play, even for something as seemingly harmless as a game."
Malwarebytes has a more in-depth analysis on the dangers of sideloading on its Blog.