Mobile apps have fundamentally transformed nearly every aspect of our lives — whether it is about ordering food or listening to music or playing games or communicating with others. The popularity of mobile apps has reached such a level that people don’t even think about how much they use it. And why not, unlike desktop apps, mobile apps are convenient, and they focus on doing a particular task really well.
This skyrocketing popularity of mobile apps has also given birth to another type of apps — Mod. Mod APKs are nothing but modified versions of their original mobile apps. Mod APKs are created in order to provide users with better features or features that are not available in a particular region. Talking about APK, it is the package file format used by the Android operating system for distribution and installation of mobile apps and middleware.
For example, if you are playing a game on your smartphone and there are some features in the game that needs to be unlocked by paying a specific amount. This is when mod versions come into the play. The mod version of the game will be code in such a way that it unlocks all the paid features of the original game. This is the major reason why mod APKs have gained so much popularity these days.
Another example is the use of Spotify in India. The audio streaming platform was recently launched in India, however, many people in India were still using it. How? Thanks to mod. A modified APK of the Spotify app was all over the Internet; people could install the app even though it wasn’t available on the Google Play Store. After installation, all they had to do was use a VPN and sign up or log in.
How Safe Are Mod APKs?
Our mothers keep saying don’t take things from strangers and this applies to mobile apps too — never install apps on your phone from strangers or untrusted sources considering the risks that come with downloading these apps.
Modified mobile apps or mod APKs are not developed by the original creator or the original app. Rather, it is made by someone else; that someone can be just a random individual or a group of coders. If we see from a hacker’s perspective, then a mod APK can be a great option to steal data from someone’s mobile devices. The hacker can create a replica of a very popular application and make the features available to people who can’t afford to pay in the original application.
Modified apps are mostly available out the android’s official app store i.e. Google Play Store. Therefore it is always advised not to install any app on your mobile device that is downloaded outside the Google Play Store. You might have noticed that even your mobile device warns you when you go ahead with the process of installing an app from an untrusted source. And that is because of the security issues these app presents.
In 2012 and 2013, famous games like Temple Run 2 and Candy Crush Saga become victims of these mod APKs. These modified apps infected numerous devices by offering baits like cheats for the games. Also, by aggressively pushing ads, these apps gathered personal information from all the infected devices.
Modified apps are most of the time malicious in nature. These apps not only aggressively push ads but also steal information unique to the mobile device such as serial number, OS version, and International Mobile Station Equipment Identity (IMEI) number.
Is Google Play Store Safe?
Talking about the security level of the Google Play Store, even it is not completely safe. Recently, Taiwanese multinational cybersecurity firmTrend Micro discovered many devious photo apps that paved its way to the Google Play Store and managed to get downloaded more than 4 million times before the search giant Google took off them from the Play Store. The security firm has stated that a large number of the download counts originated from Asia — particularly from India.
According to Trend Micro, some of these apps were pushing full-screen ads on a victim’s device for fraudulent or pornographic content every time the phone was unlocked. That is not all, they are also redirecting the users to phishing sites.
Mod APKs and fraudulent apps are literally on the rise and despite numerous many efforts by Google, some malicious apps do sneak in and expose millions of unaware users to hackers across the globe.
With every passing year, mobile platform malware continues to evolve — with more sophisticated and never-seen-before capabilities, and spotting them on Google Play Store doesn’t come up as a surprise. Mod Apps and malicious apps take great pains to look as genuine as possible, however, it is always considered to be good practice to verify before downloading any kind unknown apps — be it from the Google Play Store or any other source. And one of the good methods of doing this is by checking reviews from other users and also do a check on the developer.
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