Is Amazon's app store unsafe?

Blimey. We bet Amazon's PR department are jumping up and down in panic about this one. As you might know, the online retail giant recently launched its own alternative to Google's app store for Android phones. Unlike Google's Android Market, which almost any app can enter, Amazon's appstore sells a hand-picked set of apps chosen for their usefulness and safety.

At least, that's the theory. But security experts are saying that actually, installing the Amazon Appstore on your Android phone could decrease your phone's security. It's not that the apps you get from Amazon could be dodgy. It's just that installing apps through Amazon's Appstore requires users to activate the ability to install apps from outside the Android Market.

Confused? Let us explain. Android phones, unlike iOS devices, can accept apps from outside the official app store (Android Market in Android's case, the App Store in iOS' case). But that ability isn't turned on by default. To run apps from the Amazon appstore, you have to tell your phone it's OK to install things that aren't from the Android Market. That could leave you open to malware attacks, security experts are pointing out.

So what should you do? It's tricky. It's not like the Android Market is an entirely safe place to get apps either - it's had its own problems with malware. Amazon's app collection is actually more carefully selected than Google's. We'd say, go ahead and install the Amazon appstore, but be extra careful about clicking on mysterious links on your phone lest one of them install some malware on your phone.

It's enough to make you long for the days of dumbphones that could only play Snake...

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