AppLinked utility for bulk sideloading possibly gains malware under new ownership

When popular bulk sideloading utility Filelinked was shut down by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, a piracy takedown coalition consisting of many major entertainment companies, it wasn’t long before numerous clones and replacements began appearing to fill its place. Be warned that one of the more popular clones, called AppLinked, has recently changed ownership and possibly gained malware and/or viruses in the process.

The first version of AppLinked released under its new owner’s control is version 1.1.0. Compared to the previous version 1.0.9, which was 4 MB in size, the new version has ballooned to 34 MB without seeming to gain any added functionality. If that wasn’t enough of a red flag to now avoid the app, the new version also appears to contain malware and/or viruses.

Running AppLinked v1.1.0 through Virustotal, which scans files using numerous virus scanning utilities, reveals that 16 security vendors are flagging the app as containing some form of a malicious file. For comparison, a scan of the previous v1.0.9, prior to the ownership change, comes back with a clean scan showing no malicious files. The former owner of Applinked has also stated today that he has “no control on what is happening to AppLinked” and that he does “not condone any sort of malware or viruses,” which, to me, seems like he’s aware that something isn’t quite right with the latest version.

If you are an AppLinked user, it’s difficult to know if the app truly contains malware or if these are false positives, but my recommendation is to not take the chance and avoid using the app. If you’ve already installed v1.1.0, it’s probably best to factory reset your device. While bulk sideloading utilities may make installing several files at once a bit easier, I recommend skipping these middlemen apps and just sideload apps directly, one at a time, so that you know exactly where each app is coming from.

3 comments
  1. BH says:

    These apps are no good and just big down your device. I’ve tried them. Half the time they don’t work or jacks up your streaming device. Not worth it.

  2. Thanks again Elias for all your hard work and insight.

  3. Nate says:

    Good heads up for all of us out there. Just out of curiosity, I ran the newly minted APK through another scanner and see that permissions to access a user’s coarse location has also been added?

    https://www.hybrid-analysis.com/sample/297baeecb506b158f96825148966589f33fb20784e86a793bf2dfbdabb5c0095/618b37d3cda6cf722f7cba32

    All of these things coupled with the change in ownership and ballooning of the file size are major red flags. If this all isn’t enough to make end users stay far away from this one, I have no idea what will.

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