Installing applications in APK format is more dangerous than downloading those applications from Google Play. Therefore, it is best to make sure that the files are ‘clean’ before running them on your Android: VirusTotal checks if they are infected with viruses and / or malware. We show you how it works.
Android is an operating system for mobiles that has notable advantages, such as the openness in the installation of apps and the freedom to download them from anywhere, not just from the official Android store. Of course, these downloads carry an added risk since it is very easy to alter the code of the apps so that they infect all the mobiles that install them. Therefore, the first rule to avoid infections is to make sure that the page from which the apps are downloaded is trustworthy; the second rule is to check all files with VirusTotal.
VirusTotal is a website that analyzes APK applications for viruses and malware
The first thing we must make clear is that VirusTotal is not an application that scans your phone for threats: it is an antivirus website that will check all the files that you upload manually. Analyzing the downloaded APK applications involves a process that can be somewhat cumbersome, but it avoids almost 100% of suffering infections on the mobile.
VirusTotal analyzes the APKs that are uploaded to the web in search of any threat that its code contains. If once the files have been analyzed they show no signs of infection, they can be installed with confidence. Although yes: despite the fact that the app is clean of viruses and malware, that does not imply that its operation is transparent, only that the file was not modified to alter its code and turn it into a malicious app.
VirusTotal can tell you that an app is not infected, but that does not mean that the app is trustworthy. It can abuse permissions, collect too much private data …
Since it is a web page, and that it does not have official applications (there are apps related to VirusTotal that can use its API, but none is developed by the company), you have to load a browser and check each APK file one by one. It is a simple process that becomes arduous when the number of applications to analyze is high.
To use VirusTotal you must carry out the following process:
- Make sure the APK application you downloaded is on your phone (or access VirusTotal from your computer and then move the APK to your mobile).
- Open your mobile browser and access the VirusTotal website.
- Click on ‘Choose file’ to choose the APK file to analyze.
- VirusTotal will do a full scan for viruses and malware. If the app has already been uploaded, the process will be faster.
- Once the analysis is finished, go to the ‘Summary’ tab. In the event that the result is ‘0’ the application is clean. If threats were detected, the web will tell you how many and which ones it found (in the ‘Detection’ tab).
- Install the APK only if VirusTotal tells you that it is completely clean. Always making sure that the app is also reliable.
Our recommendation is that you do not download applications in APK unless you know well what those apps do and that the download page is reliable. And if you download them always check for threats: VirusTotal is one of the most reliable ways to avoid malware infections.