Last Updated: January 6, 2023
If you need to download apps from sources other than the Google Play Store, you’ll most likely end up on APKMirror.
But, is it safe?
Don’t despair, I am going to clear all your doubts regarding APKMirror’s safety, such as:
- Is APKMirror Safe?
- Should You Download Apps From APKMirror?
- Are The Apps on APKMirror Modified?
- How To Verify APKs Downloaded From APKMirror Are Safe?
- Is APKMirror Legal?
- Is APKMirror a Virus?
Let’s dive right in!
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Is APKMirror Safe?
APKMirror is safe for downloading apps as it verifies each application’s cryptographic signatures before publishing to ensure the APK file has not been altered in any way.
In case you don’t know, the cryptographic signature of the app is a specific key signed by the real developers which help in identifying the file integrity.
That’s why APKMirror verifies the newly submitted apps as well as when adding new versions of already published apps using their cryptographic signatures to make sure the provided APKs are safe to download.
For newly submitted apps, APKMirror tries to match the cryptographic signatures to other existing applications by the same developer.
If the signatures match, it means the same key was used to sign a previously known legit app, therefore validating the new upload.
If not, it means the APKs are modified by someone pretending to be the real developer of the app.
And when adding a new version of existing published apps, APKMirror matches cryptographic signatures of new versions with previously published apps to ensure that the new version is also signed by the true developers.
If they are unable to verify the legitimacy of the newly submitted app or its new version then APKMirror will simply not publish it.
Furthermore, APKMirror is owned and managed by the same team that administers Android Police which means you’re in safe hands.
Should You Download Apps From APKMirror?
Although it is safe to download apps from APKMirror but it is not the safest option for downloading apps.
The safest and official source for downloading Android apps is Google Play Store.
Even though Play Store is also not completely safe from malicious apps but it is much more secure than APKMirror or any other third-party app store.
Google Play Store has strict rules and guidelines for developers, and they must go through a rigorous verification process before their app is approved and published.
Moreover, only the developers of the app can submit their applications to Google Play Store.
In contrast, anyone can submit an APK to APKMirror whether it’s the real developer of the app or someone else.
However, APKMirror will verify that APK file before publishing.
Here’s how most APK sites (maybe including APKMirror) verify the APKs before publishing.
Based on my research, they usually verify the signatures of submitted APKs by downloading that exact app from the Play Store, extracting its APK file, and trying to match the signatures of both APK files (the submitted APK and the other one extracted from the Play Store).
If the signatures of both APK files match, APKMirror or other similar sites also publish that app on their platform as well.
Confused? Don’t worry, I’ll walk you through the exact procedure of manually verifying APKs utilizing their cryptographic signatures, so you will understand exactly what I mean.
To conclude, I would say:
Despite the fact that APKMirror is safe but since it doesn’t perform the full verification process as Google Play Store and allows anyone to submit an APK, it’s not as safe as Play Store.
That’s why I always recommend downloading from the Google Play Store instead of APKMirror or any other unofficial third-party app store.
Google Play Store should be your first priority when it comes to downloading Android apps.
However, if you’re facing problems with the Play Store and need to download apps from APKMirror then you must manually verify the downloaded APKs before installing them on your device.
How To Verify APKs Downloaded From APKMirror Are Safe?
Here are two of the best safety measures to determine whether or not the APK files downloaded from APKMirror are safe to install on your device.
Safety Measure #1: Scan The APK File Using VirusTotal
The first safety measure is to scan your APK files using VirusTotal as it is one of the best and free online services that analyzes files and URLs with over 70 antivirus scanners and URL blocklisting services to detect viruses, malware, trojans, and other types of malicious content.
With that being said, let’s scan the APK file:
- Visit VirusTotal from your browser and click on Choose file.
- Now select the downloaded APK file from your device.
Once it is analyzed, you should check the report for threats.
If no threat is detected, it means the APK file you’re going to install on your device is safe.
Safety Measure #2: Verify The APK Signature
Although APKMirror claims they verify the signatures of the app before publication, we will manually check.
By performing this safety measure, we’ll also be able to determine whether the hosted APKs on their platform are in the original state or they’ve been altered.
The method involves downloading an app from the Play Store, extracting its APK file, and verifying its signature with the one downloaded from APKMirror.
Here’s the step-by-step process.
Step 1: Just install APK Extractor from Play Store.
Step 2: Now, download the APK file of the app that you want to verify if you already haven’t from APKMirror. For instance, I am downloading Instagram APK. By the way, it doesn’t matter which version you download.
Step 3: Now, install that exact app (Instagram) from the Play Store if you already haven’t and extract its APK file.
- Since we’re verifying the Instagram so I am going to extract its APK file.
- To extract, open Apk Extractor, look for Instagram, and click on it.
Step 4: Upload both APK files (the one downloaded from APKMirror and the one downloaded from Play Store) into the APK Signature Verification tool.
- First, upload the APK file of Instagram we’ve downloaded from APKMirror.
- Once uploaded, note its signature key.
- Now, upload the APK file of Instagram that we extracted.
- Once uploaded, check its signature key and if it matches with the one downloaded from APKMirror means that the file is unaltered.
In our case, the signatures of the file are matched so it means the APK file of Instagram we downloaded from APKMirror is not modified in any way.
Also, it’s confirmed that the files hosted on APKMirror aren’t modified.
By the way, you can use this method not just on the files downloaded from APKMirror but on any other APKs provider such as APKPure, Uptodown, etc.
Is APKMirror Legal?
APKMirror is legal to use but since it’s not an official app store like Play Store and not all the apps are published by the developers themselves, it loses some of its credibility in this regard, while still staying absolutely legal for its users.
However, they allow the app developers to submit DMCA if they wish to take down their app from the platform which means no illegal activities are going on APKMirror.
Generally, downloading Android apps (APKs) outside of the Google Play Store is not illegal as long as the platform you’re downloading from does not host pirated or cracked apps.
Considering that Google owns Android, if downloading and installing APKs were illegal, it would prevent users from installing any apps outside of the Play Store.
In spite of Google letting users download apps outside the Play Store, it is illegal to download them from APK sites that host cracked or pirated apps.
Fortunately, APKMirror is an authentic site that does not indulge in any such activities.
APKMirror takes pride in only sharing free apps, not cracked or pirated ones which makes it a legal platform for downloading apps.
Is APKMirror a Virus?
APKMirror itself is not a virus but some of the apps hosted on their platform might be infected.
Although it verifies each application and scans for any possible viruses before publishing, it is still advised for users to carefully do their own safety checks too.
You can follow the safety measures I shared with you in the above section.
However, I always recommend downloading Android apps from Google Play Store rather than APKMirror or any other APK sites.
Security breaches and abrupt viruses can occur in the Play Store as well but their layer of protection is much stronger than APKMirror or other third-party app stores.
APKMirror is a safe source for downloading Android apps since it manually checks the cryptographic signatures of each APK before publishing to make sure the file has not been modified in any way.
In addition, APKMirror is owned and managed by the same team that administers Android Police which further ensures that you’re in safe hands.
Moreover, it does not host paid or pirated apps to avoid the risks associated with them and to maintain the credibility and legality of its platform.
In spite of APKMirror being safe, your first priority should always be the Play Store when it comes to downloading Android apps because it is much more secure than APKMirror or any other unofficial third-party app store.
However, if downloading apps from APKMirror is your only option then make sure to verify downloaded APK files before installing to minimize the risks of viruses, malware, or other kinds of malicious content entering your device.
Got any questions? Let me know in the comments!
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