[Q] How can I test an .apk to see if it's "safe" to install?

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critofur

Senior Member
Jan 21, 2011
570
97
NYC/Tokyo
Hi,
Sometimes an app (.apk) is either simply not available through Google's store, or it might say "not compatible with your device", etc. There can be various reasons why a person might download a .apk from somewhere other than a "trusted" source.

If this was a file for my PC I could test it in a "sandbox", and I could scan it with both Microsoft Security Essentials and Malware Bytes Antimalware.

On my Android phone(s) I'm not aware of something like the "sandbox" option, and I don't really want to run an "antivirus" program on my phone. Is there an easy way to scan .apk files on the PC to see if they are rogue apps, might send SMS, "phone home", or otherwise mess with other applications or the system software installed on my phone?

Lets give another example: say I thought 15 minutes was not long enough to evaluate a relatively expensive Android game (it certainly isn't!) and I want to test it out first. Let's assume my only option in that case might be an illegally downloaded copy from unknown sources. Of course, we shouldn't do that. But if we did, how could we know if the file is safe and not risk installing some Chinese spyware?

About Android AV programs: anybody know how effective they are? Do some defend against "trojans" - I would think these days trojans are 99% of problems and viruses mostly a relic of the past?

My biggest concern is actually just unwanted crap that runs in the background which eats up battery, makes my phone warm (which I hate), or, perhaps even sends SMS message [this would be even worse because I don't have a text message plan].

EDIT: I see web pages with tiles like "new study finds Android antivirus apps not effective" and articles like this one: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/hardware/...bouncer-does-it-offer-enough-protection/17981

Do we have an easy way to boot Galaxy S3 off of "external" SDCARD instead of internal memory?
 
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delidigital

New member
Jan 28, 2014
1
1
an easy way to check for safe apk

The easiest way to check for safe apk is to have one gmail account and another "whatever" email account. Then just send the apk from the gmail one to the second account, gmail always find viruses in any apk and stop the process to join the file (virus alert). Bad point is you are limited with the size of the file you wanna send.
 
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St.Blitz

Member
Apr 25, 2012
38
13
Nowadays, even pc antiviruses can detect viruses in apks. I would rather not burden my phone with any android antivirus,since they are literally battery hogs.

sent using my HTC One S
 

witchcraftz

Member
Oct 20, 2011
48
11
Go here and upload the APK

http://anubis.iseclab.org/

Anubis is a service for analyzing malware.

Submit your Windows executable or Android APK and receive an analysis report telling you what it does. Alternatively, submit a suspicious URL and receive a report that shows you all the activities of the Internet Explorer process when visiting this URL.

Andrubis executes Android apps in a sandbox and provides a detailed report on their behavior, including file access, network access, crypto operations, dynamic code loading and information leaks. In addition to the dynamic analysis in the sandbox, Andrubis also performs static analysis, yielding information on e.g. the app's activities, services, required external libraries and actually required permissions.
 

nintendo1889

Senior Member
Apr 21, 2013
50
4
You can also email the file to [email protected] and it will email the report back in about ten minutes. Virustotal can display some interesting info, for example it said that Lucky Patcher is a "Potentially Infected Hosts File (v)", as reported by VIPRE and AVware.

Virustotal also has an official android app.

The Netqin scanner is also an android mobile app.
 
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therion23

New member
Jul 12, 2012
1
0
Late answer, sure, but I think ClamAV is what you want. You also want its bytecode signature file, and to speed things up, you only want that single file (speeds up things quite a bit).

It is the only offline apk scanner i know of, and as for its efficiency i cannot say, but it seems like it is what you are asking for.

An alternative would be to install something like BlueStacks and remap your "Windows shared folder" (through registry) to the folder you have your apk files in, and then run BitDefender on it. BD is by far the most pernickety AV app out there for Android.
 

nintendo1889

Senior Member
Apr 21, 2013
50
4
I'll have to check out bitdefender (it's also included on virustotal.com)

apkscan.nviso.be seems to be pretty good at analyzing files for suspicious activity, and it also uploads the file to virustotal for you. Then you can copy the sha256 hash into the virustotal's search, to get all the gory details.


anubis.iseclab.org limits files to 8 megabytes.

Another way to avoid malware is:

when installing an update to an already-installed version of an application, it will 99% of the time prompt you to update an existing app. There's been rare instances where some apps do use a new digital signature (for example when spotify had a big security hole, and for awhile there were two apps by spotify in the app store).

One other way to tell, as a final check when launching the apk for installation on the phone: the icon will not have the right icon. I've installed apps before that I thought came from a trusted source, but the icon was not right. In fact, I was considering not posting this publically, so the "bad dudes" would not update their methods.
 

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jcooler

Senior Member
Jan 31, 2013
122
36
Inman, SC
Another tool I found:

http://andrototal.org/

Although it might be a duplicate of virustotal.

I just tried out this site. To me, it appears to be the most thorough virus testing site that I have seen. It takes some time for it to complete the scans. mainly because it scans the file with about 7 or 8 different scanning engines. Just just have to keep refreshing the page every few minutes to see if the results have updated.
I will be using this one as my go to site for apk scanning.
 

Sushant Rohan

Senior Member
Feb 2, 2015
222
48
21
Muzaffarpur
Just install it on the default emulator in the Android SDK
You can also install your apps on other emulator live bluestacks(best for games), jar of beans(best for rooted app) and windroy(the lightest)

Hit thanks if this helps
 

deutsh

Senior Member
Aug 19, 2012
358
35
By using GDATA security , When you want to install an app the GDATA will scan it befor installing

Sent from my LG-D855 using Tapatalk
 

imahsen

Member
Sep 26, 2014
17
1
Use google scanning service VirusTotal to scan any app, secondly always use secure source. There are many well reputed apk sites but I personally use apklink.com , on this site required apk file is just a click away and its quite easy as well...
be safe & secure ;)
 

G0ldengirl68

Senior Member
Jan 4, 2017
71
7
Crescent City, CA
This threads out of date, but it has me thinking I want to use something as mentioned in several replies to OP.

Are there any sites, or apps that can warn me if an .apk (for example) has malware etc.?

Thanks in advance for any help, including a link to another discussion that may have my answer:)
 

Droidriven

Senior Member
Jan 27, 2014
15,603
11
5,419
NC
Verizon Samsung Galaxy S III
HTC Thunderbolt
This threads out of date, but it has me thinking I want to use something as mentioned in several replies to OP.

Are there any sites, or apps that can warn me if an .apk (for example) has malware etc.?

Thanks in advance for any help, including a link to another discussion that may have my answer:)
Malwarebytes can detect malware.

Sent from my LGL84VL using Tapatalk
 
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    Go here and upload the APK

    http://anubis.iseclab.org/

    Anubis is a service for analyzing malware.

    Submit your Windows executable or Android APK and receive an analysis report telling you what it does. Alternatively, submit a suspicious URL and receive a report that shows you all the activities of the Internet Explorer process when visiting this URL.

    Andrubis executes Android apps in a sandbox and provides a detailed report on their behavior, including file access, network access, crypto operations, dynamic code loading and information leaks. In addition to the dynamic analysis in the sandbox, Andrubis also performs static analysis, yielding information on e.g. the app's activities, services, required external libraries and actually required permissions.
    7
    Found a good one too

    apkscan.nviso.be - give it a try. Drag and drop - wait for the upload - than click SCAN . Wait for a few minutes. That`s all. Unlike ANUBIS it has a resolution at the end of the analysis . Usually helpful.
    3
    Hi,
    Sometimes an app (.apk) is either simply not available through Google's store, or it might say "not compatible with your device", etc. There can be various reasons why a person might download a .apk from somewhere other than a "trusted" source.

    If this was a file for my PC I could test it in a "sandbox", and I could scan it with both Microsoft Security Essentials and Malware Bytes Antimalware.

    On my Android phone(s) I'm not aware of something like the "sandbox" option, and I don't really want to run an "antivirus" program on my phone. Is there an easy way to scan .apk files on the PC to see if they are rogue apps, might send SMS, "phone home", or otherwise mess with other applications or the system software installed on my phone?

    Lets give another example: say I thought 15 minutes was not long enough to evaluate a relatively expensive Android game (it certainly isn't!) and I want to test it out first. Let's assume my only option in that case might be an illegally downloaded copy from unknown sources. Of course, we shouldn't do that. But if we did, how could we know if the file is safe and not risk installing some Chinese spyware?

    About Android AV programs: anybody know how effective they are? Do some defend against "trojans" - I would think these days trojans are 99% of problems and viruses mostly a relic of the past?

    My biggest concern is actually just unwanted crap that runs in the background which eats up battery, makes my phone warm (which I hate), or, perhaps even sends SMS message [this would be even worse because I don't have a text message plan].

    EDIT: I see web pages with tiles like "new study finds Android antivirus apps not effective" and articles like this one: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/hardware/...bouncer-does-it-offer-enough-protection/17981

    Do we have an easy way to boot Galaxy S3 off of "external" SDCARD instead of internal memory?
    3
    I found this website, maybe it can help someone.

    h t t p://scan.netqin.com/en/


    Maybe someone can post another one...
    2
    Search play store for avast antivirus, completely free, updates daily and works really well (firewall. Anti theft. And many more Features

    sony xperia ray ics 4.0.4
    stock rom unrooted