Third-party applications are any software app made by someone who isn’t the manufacturer of the mobile device it runs on or its operating system. They also exist through websites and social media. For example, Facebook has third-party apps that it permits even though they were not developed to function on the popular social media site. While these types of apps may sound foreign, they are actually very prominent. Apple Store and Google Play contain thousands of third-party apps. Furthermore, they are ubiquitous on every social media site.

Types of Third-Party Applications

  • Apps downloadable through unofficial app stores: These applications are not created by organizations affiliated with the device or its operating system. They are offered through third-party app stores. These stores have lower security standards, so use caution downloading applications from them.

  • Apps downloadable through official app stores: These applications are made by organizations other than the Google Play Store and the Apple Store. To be accepted in these stores, they must follow their safety guidelines.
  • Apps that connect with other services: These applications are commonly found on social media sites. They often and enhance features or provide fun quizzes or games in exchange for profile information. One example is Quizzstar, which can be located on Facebook. The app requires permission to access Facebook profile information. It isn’t downloaded, but people grant it access to potentially sensitive information.

Official App Stores vs. Third-Party App Stores

Third party application stores are unofficial app stores that offer a multitude of third-party applications. They often tempt customers to buy and download their applications by providing a much lower price in comparison to the official app stores. Another tantalizing aspect about these stores is that they accept alternative currency, such as cryptocurrency so that users can remain anonymous. Furthermore, there are currently over 300 third-party stores, and that number continues to grow as society becomes more digitalized.

In comparison to third-party application stores, first-party stores offer native apps as well as third-party apps. Native applications are produced and distributed by the device’s manufacturer or operating system creator using proprietary source codes. They are commonly found pre-downloaded on devices or through official app stores such as the Apple Store and Google Play. Some typical examples of these on iPhones are iTunes, iBooks, and Message.

Safety Risk

The significant difference between third-party stores and official application stores is that the official stores have higher security to protect you from malicious third-party applications. Many phone services even ban the use of third-party application stores so they cannot compromise your device. Often, when you download an insecure third-party app, it infects your device with malicious software commonly in the form of Trojan horses. Most third-party applications require access to your profile information. This gives them access to your contacts, passwords, financial accounts, emails, pictures, and a lot of other sensitive information that can provide them with access to infiltrate your device and compromise your data. Furthermore, they can also duplicate your profile, which exposes your personal information to potentially harmful individuals. Additionally, they can use your information to form a botnet.

How to Avoid Infection

The best way to prevent your device from being infected by third-party apps is by avoiding third-party application stores. While they may have a few safe apps, their security standards are far below what the official app stores offer.

Also, for social media third-party applications, they often ask for access to your account information. Many people quickly grant them access without reading what information they require. Instead of blindly permitting them access to your data, be sure to read over what they want access to in order to ensure your private information stays secure.

Another way to prevent infection is by using cybersecurity products that scan your device for malicious software. Furthermore, it is imperative that you run scans frequently and keep your software up to date.


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