The full form of APK means Android Application Package, these are archives with all the resources necessary for the app to function but they can contain unpleasant surprises.
When you want to install a program on a computer with a Windows operating system, you will have to look for a file with the extension “.exe”, double-click on it and follow the installation procedure. In the case of an iMac or MacBooks, will have to search for the file with the extension “.dmg”, click twice and follow the on-screen instructions.
In the case of smartphones, the communication is different. When you want to install an application you visit the online store (the App Store for the iPhone, Google Play Store for Android devices), press “Download” and expect the system to automatically complete the performance. This, at least, what is accustomed to the vast majority of users: few know that Android allows, such as Windows and MacOS, to install apps outside the Play Store. Simply download an APK file from a trusted source on your smartphone or tablet, open the file and follow the installation process.
What are APK Android files
APK Android files are the equivalent of “.exe” files for Windows or “.dmg” for macOS and enable you to install new software on your smartphone or tablet. Acronym of Android Application Package, are archive files in which you can find all the files and elements necessary for the installation and operation of the app you have chosen. There are several reasons why you can install apps from APK files on your device: maybe you are a fan of software development and want to test alpha versions or beta versions of your favourite apps; or you are looking for programs not available in the country where you live (not all the apps available in the Play Store can be installed in Italy).
Unlike computer operating systems, however, installing APK on Android is more complex than installing software. It will be necessary to authorize the installation of apps from unknown sources (in fact, unofficial app and not always present in the Google Play Store), thus exposing the device to dangers of various kinds and nature.
Why Android APK files could be dangerous
As with computer software, to install APK files in Android you will need to download them from the Web. Not all sources from which you download, however, are reliable: it could happen that an APK file downloaded from an unreliable site hides a malicious code. Put simply, within an apparently “legitimate” APK file you could hide an Android malware that you will voluntarily install in your device.
In fact, it often happens that hackers and cyber criminals “disguise” viruses and Trojans for Android inside APK files, then expose them to free versions of paid apps or things like that. The reason is soon said: while the apps in the Google Play Store are controlled and scanned before being installed on the device, APK files downloaded around the web may have been created by anyone and for the most different purposes. The authorization to install apps from unknown sources, then, further lowers the “defences” of the smartphone or Android tablet, exposing it to possible cyber attacks.