“Aptoide Malware”, “Aptoide contains virus” or “Apps in Aptoide are infected” are just three examples of the negative observations which you often find in social networks such as twitter, and posts all around the internet. But are these really true observations?  Read through the article to demystify some of these observations, and if you find it useful feel free to help others pointing them here the next time you see this type of discussions.

Aptoide is an Android Marketplace offering an easy way for Android users to obtain mobile apps. With over 300 million users and 1 million apps it is one of the top alternatives to the official marketplace Google Play Store. Besides offering some apps which we are not available able in Google Play Store (e.g. Vidmate, SnapTube or LuckyPatcher), bonuses and perks by using AppCoins, it allows users to obtain apps without region restrictions and in countries where Google does not operate (e.g. China).

For several years now, Aptoide has been heavily committed in ensuring safest and malware-free content. All apps are pushed through a pipeline of multiple both automated, manual analysis tools as well as user reviews. Security related R&D projects such as the TrustChain and AppSentinel also show commitment in always improving the Security domain. Other related blog posts can be found here, here and here.

The results from this commitment in providing the safest content were even confirmed in 2017 by the scientific community. In “Understanding the security management of global third-party Android marketplaces”, an article by the Waseda University and the NTT Secure Platform Laboratories, researchers compare the safety of 27 Android marketplaces and rank Aptoide as the safest marketplace.

image source [1].

The authors created a security index (horizontal axis) composed of multiple parameters and Aptoide appears as the top performer.
However, using the Alexa Rank to classify in terms of popularity (vertical axis), researchers show that Aptoide seems unpopular.

All mobile apps’ marketplaces are prone to malware and unwanted apps, ensuring the safety and correctness of every single app is still a very difficult challenge. That’s why we can find daily news and reports regarding mobile apps bypassing security control and being distributed to users. Some recent examples are:
Malware found on the AppGallery app store for the first time
New Wormable Android Malware Spreads by Creating Auto-Replies to Messages in WhatsApp
Malicious code in APKPure app

More flexible policies mean broader content to users but greater security challenges for marketplaces. This is also why since 2021, stricter policies regarding content were put in place as yet another effort to ensure that users are provided with only the safest and most reliable content.

Although all the efforts and commitment, lots of doubts still exist in the community regarding security. Answer the Public is a tool that helps understanding users and what they search the most on search engines. Using this tool, we can see that 22% of questions related to Aptoide are related to safety.

This is also why we wrote this article to help clarifying some of these questions.

But what do you think, is Aptoide safe?

[1] Yuta Ishii, Takuya Watanabe, Fumihiro Kanei, Yuta Takata, Eitaro Shioji, Mitsuaki Akiyama, Takeshi Yagi, Bo Sun, and Tatsuya Mori. 2017. Understanding the security management of global third-party Android marketplaces. In Proceedings of the 2nd ACM SIGSOFT International Workshop on App Market Analytics (WAMA 2017). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 12–18. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1145/3121264.3121267

Disclaimer: we have been working with Aptoide in the continuous improvement of their malware control systems.