Sideloading Apps on iOS: Risks & Security Best Practices

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By Kyrstin Wojda

Have you ever downloaded an app outside your device’s official app store? This simple phenomenon is known as “Sideloading Apps.” These apps are usually available in the form of APKs on a website from which anyone can access and download them on their devices. 

For many users, sideloading might not seem very risky. But in reality, there are multiple threats associated with sideloading apps on iOS. These risks could be malware, data breaches, and more. 

In recent years, Apple has never allowed third-party app stores. But now, with iOS 17, it has allowed downloading apps from other than the official App Store. But if you’re outside the EU, it isn’t for you. Apple has only allowed it in a few regions of the EU due to their new regulations. 

In this article, we’ll talk about the risks of sideloaded apps and explore best practices you can follow to avoid falling prey to any such incidents. So, to not miss any detail, read on.

Risk of Sideloading Apps on iOS

If you remember, in 2022, Apple released a report about their App Store. The report revealed that until now Apple has declined over 1.7 million app submissions and removed 32,000 apps on the suspicion of fraud. This shows how much Apple cares about what could be downloaded on their devices. However, this is not true for third-party app stores. They can cause irreversible harm to your iOS device. 

Now, let’s a brief look at the risks of downloading sideloaded apps:

  • Potential for Malware and Malicious Software: Sideloading apps means you might get bad apps that can install malware on your phone and steal your info. These apps can show you too many ads or lock your phone until you pay money.
  • Compromised App Store Integrity: Sideloading can mess up the normal way of getting apps, making it easy to get fake or stolen apps. This can affect the integrity of the app ecosystem and unfairly impacts legitimate developers.
  • Data Privacy Breaches: Apps from outside the official App Store might not keep your personal information safe. This could lead to someone else getting your private details without you knowing.
  • Voiding Warranty and Support: The apps you download from third-party apps terminate the support and warranty of your phone. So, if you face any problem, the company that made your phone might not help you fix it.
  • Device Vulnerabilities: Sideloading can introduce vulnerabilities in your device and make your phone easier to hack. If these apps don’t get regular updates, your phone could stay unsafe for a long time.

Security Best Practices for iOS Devices

Let’s explore the best practices to secure your iOS devices from the risks of sideloading apps. 

1. Enable App Store Restrictions

You can set App Store restrictions on your iOS device to stop downloads of unsafe apps. This helps keep only the trusted apps on your device and is important for protecting young users and children.

2. Regularly Update iOS Software and Applications

Always update your apps and iOS to the latest version. It ensures that your device has the latest security updates and improvements. These updates fix security problems and keep hackers away from exploiting your device’s vulnerabilities.

3. Implement Strong Passwords and Biometric Authentication

Create tough passwords and use fingerprint or face scans for extra safety. This makes it hard for others to get into your device. Also, it will lessen the possibility of unauthorized access to your private data.

4. Use VPNs for Secure App Usage

If you want to save yourself from any harmful malware, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). It makes your internet connection private and safe. It is especially great for when you’re using public Wi-Fi.

5. Review App Permissions and Revoke Unnecessary Access

Examine your apps’ access, and remove any unnecessary permissions. You can lower the chance of data misuse and safeguard your privacy by restricting certain permissions on your iOS devices. 

6. Use Trusted Sources for App Downloads and Installations

Download programs from reputable websites or the App Store only to be secure. Due to the rigorous security tests that these programs have already undergone, the likelihood of downloading malicious malware is minimized.

7. Block Traffic from Apps Known to be Malicious or Vulnerable

Use security tools and services to monitor and block network traffic from apps identified as malicious or vulnerable. This preventive measure can protect your device from being compromised by known threats.

8. Regularly Back up Device Data

Ensure you regularly back up your iOS device’s data to iCloud or a computer. This practice not only protects your information in case of device loss or damage but also simplifies data recovery efforts, keeping your valuable data secure and accessible.



Sideloading apps on iOS devices allows you to download a multitude of applications. But, it can also make your device less safe. You might get harmful software, have private information stolen, or lose your warranty. 

It is important to implement robust security measures for your own good. These measures include enabling App Store limits, updating your device and apps, picking strong passwords, stopping bad apps, and backing up your device’s data often. Following these practices helps keep your phone and your personal information safe while you enjoy new apps.


Is it safe to sideload apps on iOS?

Sideloading apps on iOS overlooks the safety checks of the App Store. It exposes your device to potential risks. While it allows you access to various applications, it significantly increases the associated risks. The possibility of encountering malicious software, and data breaches become more frequent because of it.

What are the risks of sideloading apps?

Sideloading apps can introduce malware and malicious software to your device. It can also compromise the integrity of the app ecosystem and cause data privacy breaches. This practice may also nullify your warranty and support options and expose your device to vulnerabilities. All of it makes your iOS device more susceptible to security threats and attacks.

How secure are iOS apps?

iOS apps from the App Store are generally very secure. Apple reviews each app for safety and quality before it’s available to download. This process helps protect against malware and keeps your data safe. So, when you stick to downloading apps directly from the App Store, you’re choosing a safer option.