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What Are Third-Party Apps and What Are Their Risks?

Have you ever considered installing an app that isn’t available on an official app store? Maybe you know someone who’s done this before and recommended that you do it, too. But what are the risks of taking this route? We’ll explore them in this article. No matter what kind of apps you use, consider using Clario’s antivirus and anti-malware tools to protect your device from viruses and malware.

Table of contents

What are third-party app stores?

Third-party app stores allow you to bypass your device’s operating software. On Apple devices, this is otherwise known as jailbreaking.


These app stores find a way around the system to install apps that don't compy with the requirements of the device manufacturer (like security). The downside of using alternative app stores is the ability for developers to upload malicious apps.  


Whether you bypass your mobile phone’s operating system or not, you must use a cybersecurity app or software to protect it from viruses and malware.


Clario is a comprehensive, user-friendly cybersecurity app that helps to protect your data, so you can browse the internet safely.

  • The anti-malware tool protects your devices from malicious software, like trojans, worms, and more.
  • Real-time antivirus protects your devices from viruses around the clock. It scans the apps you install for viruses to ensure they don’t pose a security threat to your device.

Together, these cybersecurity tools help to keep your devices free of online threats that can compromise your privacy by exposing your personal information.  


Why not get a first-hand experience of the benefits of its anti-malware and real-time antivirus protection?

  1. Download Clario on your phone and get a subscription to set up your account
  2. Select the Device option and tap the Start scan button in the Antivirus section on the next page. Wait while Clario scans your files for viruses
  3. If any viruses are found, tap Fix now
  4. Select the infected app and tap Uninstall. Tap Uninstall again and confirm by selecting OK.

Official app stores vs. third-party app stores

Third-party app stores offer apps that are not supported by official app stores like Apple’s App Store and Google Play. You won’t find them pre-installed on a brand-new iPhone. But just how do the two categories of app stores differ?


Let’s start by breaking down the meaning behind the first party, second party, and third party in this case.  

  • First party: these are apps that are developed by official app stores. For example, the Music app was built by Apple for Apple devices.
  • Second party: refers to the users of the apps on official app stores.
  • Third party: these are apps that are not developed by device manufacturers like Apple. An example of third-party software is the Amazon Appstore on Android devices.

One of the most popular third-party app stores is Cydia. Cydia features apps that you can’t find on Apple’s App Store. Sometimes, that’s because they mimic the functionality of apps that are already on the App Store, which Apple doesn’t allow. Make sure you scan every app that you download from a third-[arty app store to avoid cyber threats. Of course, the best way to avoid those is not to use third-party app stores in the first place.

Types of third-party apps

There are two types of third-party apps:

  • Legal third-party apps are legitimate apps that are available on third-party app stores for use on mobile phones that have been bypassed.
  • Illegal third-party apps are usually pirated paid apps, which are modified and republished by parties other than the developers or owners of the app. This is done for several reasons, like allowing users to access a paid app for free or for the republishers to monetize it themselves.

Third-party apps can also be standalone apps or plugins and add-ons:

  • Standalone apps are the type of apps we’ve mentioned so far — complete apps that can be downloaded to your phone. The Netflix app is an example of a third-party app.
  • Plugins and add-ons offer some sort of additional functionality to either first- or third-party apps. In most cases, they are for 3rd party apps, as Apple and other device manufacturers usually don't make the source code for their operating software publicly available.  

Finally, some third-party apps are created for official app stores, while others are written for third-party app stores.

Third-party apps created for official app stores

Official platforms like the App Store and Google Play are filled with millions of approved apps that aren't necessarily created by Apple or Google.  


For example, the Mail app on your Apple device is a first-party app because it was created by Apple for Apple devices. But the Gmail app on your MacBook or iPhone, on the other hand, is considered a third-party app, given that it was created by Google and approved for the App Store.

Third-party apps created for wider availability

While it’s rare for first-party applications to be open source, many third-party apps are. This means other developers or companies can create plugins and add-ons for those apps.


Firefox, for instance, is a third-party web browser that allows add-ons, including some that Firefox recommends on the Firefox website.  

The risks of downloading apps from unauthorized app stores

You should always proceed with caution when considering installing third-party software. There’s a reason it's banned from some operating systems.


3rd party software can compromise your privacy in several ways.


Keep this in mind if you’re considering jailbreaking your iPhone to download third-party app stores and apps:

  1. Apple doesn’t offer support for jailbroken iPhones
  2. Jailbreaking your iPhone compromises its security and, therefore, your personal information
  3. Third-party apps can get access to your data even after you use them, especially if you grant them permission
  4. Installing third-party apps that change how your device works can compromise your privacy by making your device vulnerable to hacking.

If third-party app stores are risky, why do people use them?

In some cases, third-party app stores are considered safer than official app stores. This is especially true for the Android operating system, which is thought to be less secure than iOS.


For instance, Huawei touts its Huawei AppGallery as a safer alternative to the Google Play Store, citing security concerns. Android has come under fire for its failure to protect its users, so some users turn to third-party app stores due to these concerns.


Use our Android phone security guide to protect your phone.  


While iOS is thought to be more secure, users use third-party app stores for reasons like:

  • Getting unique apps and nifty tools  
  • Wanting something different
  • Getting paid apps for free.  

How to protect yourself from risks of third-party app stores

Check out the reviews for the app store you want to use and the specific apps you might be eyeing. See what other users have said about them online, like on Google and social media.  


More importantly, make sure you use effective cybersecurity software. Clario’s anti-malware and real-time antivirus keep your devices protected around the clock. This gives you peace of mind, knowing that your personal information is safe from hackers.

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