Why you shouldn’t use pirated Android apps

by: J. Angelo RacomaMarch 13, 2013
Android Malware

(Image credit: wikinoticia)

Time and again, we hear about Android being the worst platform in terms of security, mostly because it’s rife with malware. Apps that steal personal information and call into expensive premium numbers have purportedly proliferated even the official app repositories at one time or another. Malware is mostly widespread in third-party app marketplaces, though. One thing’s for sure: if an app does not come from Google Play or reputable sources like Amazon AppStore, then there is a higher likelihood of it being tampered with or infected.

Read also: Android malware will eat your children

Here’s one reason why you shouldn’t use pirated Android apps. It’s very easy to inject malicious code into Android app packages, which means any app out on the wild can potentially include malicious code. If you can download a cracked, free .APK of an app of an otherwise download as a paid application from Google Play, chances are it may already have been tampered with.

A post on Android App Development Ireland blog details how easy it is to inject keylogger code into SwiftKey, one of the more popular third-party Android keyboards (alongside Swype and Touchpal, among others). “Android apps are coded in Java and compiled to byte code that is run on the Dalvik VM and this byte code is not that hard to edit and insert back into an APK,” said the author, who has detailed how he was able to insert keylogger code into the Swiftkey APK, which then resulted in a keyboard replacement that sends all keylogs to the predefined server.

The method involves reverse-engineering the application package with apktool. Then the author injected the keylogger code into the source, after which the app was rebuilt and then signed. The author offers readers access to the hacked APK, which they can test. Results of the logged keystrokes are made available on this site (you can also view previously logged keystrokes from other users).

Read also: Best antivirus apps for Android 2013

Again, there’s no doubt that the more open nature of Android (relative to other platforms) makes it more susceptible to malware. Side-loading .APKs from untrusted sources adds to the risk. While there’s nothing inherently wrong about being able to side-load apps to your device, this is just a warning to be more careful with the apps you install.

  • TripleH

    Stay safe out there. Get a good antivirus, cache cleaner, and battery monitor.

    • dextersgenius

      You don’t need *any* of those. This isn’t Windows. Just use your common sense, it’s a no-brainer.

      • Jake

        Microsoft would say the same about Windows. Unfortunately, most cheap Android phones have poor memory and small batteries. Coupled with Android’s easily exploitable construction, malware and data mining is a risk, unfortunately.

        I bought an McAfee antivirus subscription recently and run it daily for peace of mind.

  • M.Beg

    Just don’t buy Android. Simple

    • Bao Nguyen

      And why don’t you keep your mouth shut, and stop trolling on an Android site. Simple

      • M.Beg

        I am a Android user and my phone keeps crashing. Simple

        • Would have been helpful to put your reason in the original post. Simple

          • M.Beg

            I am not here to get help, i am telling you Android is king of crashing OS. Simple

          • Jaysen_MikalGrantAllen

            I had a samsung moment for two years, had to replace it after a year and half because of hardware, not software. I own a GS3, had it since July of last year(obviously) never crashed once, never had to replace it at all. So you probably just have bad luck when it comes to good technology.

          • I will agree with you that my gs3 has tendencies to crash. More than my itouch but i would say the benefits outweigh the problems.

          • ever tried a nexus device?

        • your phone is crashing because you are inept. if you need something simple for simpletons go buy an iphone.

          • M.Beg

            Have had an iphone4/ios it didn’t crash as much but was a little boring to use.

        • dextersgenius

          Android = OS. Phone = Hardware. If you want to judge Android, judge it by the platform that runs it best = a Nexus.

          Or at the least, get a phone that doesn’t suck, like a GS3 or HTC One.

          • M.Beg

            I do use gs3 the king of all plastic phones, i am on my 2nd gs3 in 3 months. Crashes more than windows 98 did.

          • Not a single crash on my s3 since July 2012. You must be one unlucky bastard. May fortune smiles on you.

          • Ivan Myring

            Lying fucktard!
            Go home and kill yourself. You Insulted android, and android is god!
            All infidels must die.

        • Change your phone. Simple

          • M.Beg

            Done that…a few times.

          • change it for a nexus4 it costs $299 i bet you that it wont crash, unless you’re n idiot

        • I had iphone 4 for a month after coming from an android, i got an other andriod

        • Operator_Error

          Why did it crash? Just because you are running android is not the
          problem. Lots of people who own windows PCs computers crash, does that
          mean we should all boycott it, because it is prone to crash? No! Most
          crashes are caused by an action the user performed.

    • Arsenal™

      Shut your mouth. Simple

    • MasterMuffin


  • Support the developers. The developers deserve cash for their hard work. Well, except for EA.

    • adreno

      so you suggest people to pirate EA games ? :D

      • Have you seen the dark side?

      • APai

        no avoid them and their games, there will roughly be some other equivalents :)

    • adreno

      so you suggest people to pirate EA games ? :D

  • Lot of children out there posting stupid comments.

    • param

      no wonder, bunch of kindergarten kids just got their new apple

  • There are risks associated with any type of piracy. Basically, its best to avoid it and support the developers. If developers have done a great job with the app, they deserve to get paid. Those who choose to use pirated software shouldn’t complain when something goes wrong and must pay for the consequences.

  • Mike A

    If your dumb and get a virus/keylogger, you deserve what you you get.

  • APai

    my vote goes for the hardworking developers. how hard is it to spare a buck or two ? it works the same way with IOS too – most developers work for both the platforms. so – support the developers, do NOT sideload from illegal sources. buy the apps when on sale, if the sticker price is high for you. most popular apps are on sale every so often

  • Kingofthepotatopeople

    More accurate to say if you don’t have a clue then don’t use apps if you don’t know if they have malware in them, if you however you can find your arse with both hands then don’t worry :-)

  • avante

    I only take pirated games for “unlimited money mod” hack. :)
    Blame IAP for that.

    I always bought game that didn’t use any form of IAP. I fully support developer that chose to not use IAP.

    For those of you who like to use “modded” app or games, just ensure:

    1. Get the app from well-known forum. Other user can inform you if app is malicious. Don’t just pick from random website, no-go.

    2. Install good firewall. like droidwall. Prevent stealth internet access.

    3. Install good antivirus. Preferably the one with option to block outgoing call/sms to unknown number, like avast.

  • M000S

    or if you don’t know how to pirate maybe you should leave that kind of life for people who do. Oh and if you decide to rage because my comment isn’t politically acceptable maybe you should take a look around and consider the following: fuck you this is the internet, we do as we please.

    • Pick

      People like you are the reason I’m turned off to commenting on webpages. I don’t even understand how you think piracy is/could be complicated, or that we need to ‘leave that kind of life for people who do.’ You just reek of elitism, though I suspect your still very young.

      The whole “fuck you, we do as we please” thing makes you seem awful silly. Who the hell are “we” anyways. You act like piracy is a badge of honor…..

      • Mugiwara not-Luffy

        I, like Luffy, want to one day be King of the Pirates =D

  • Victor

    Nice article, here is
    also some other information for those who are a little further down the line
    in Android development: try to build your app on ibuildapp.com and get quick
    feedback from your potential users.

  • Bhugtaan Pragyaware

    So You mean to say i always use Google play store to download an app rather than using an another app store.

    Just Recharge it

  • Blackbeard

    These are only problems for those who don’t actually know how to pirate. What landlubbers.

  • Check the hash

    Lol a money whore site telling plp what to do

  • cake and other lies.

    lol use vshare

  • Momo_

    There is a reason developers hardwork and create the apps. So consumers dont use pirated apps. Pirated apps can harm the mobile phone..

    I do softwaring.. i was able to inject malware and get all my gfs messages through one of apk software, And yes ofcourse with her permission to show her risk and be more careful online.

    If anything is too good to be true then surely comes with some risk. I see people enjoying pirated spotify..surely they have no idea what they are giving away.

    Stay safe