How much should you be concerned about malware infections on your iOS devices? For most people, the answer will be “not at all” — but as we know, there is a danger in thinking this way. The lack of a clear and present threat from mobile malware also creates two problems of its own.
First, it can foster an environment of complacency for users towards actual exploits, which can and do occur. Apple’s regular security patches for iOS in which they close many loopholes highlights this fact. Second, and more importantly, confusion about the need for mobile threat defense means it is easier to deceive users.
Recently, the App Store played host to several apps that purported to be “anti-virus” software. These required massively expensive in-app subscriptions, sometimes to the tune of more than $100 a week. Those apps, however, did nothing; they exist only to scam users out of money. Apple quickly removed the apps from the store after discovering them. In response to this story, some commentators have claimed that there is absolutely no need for solutions on mobile threat defense. That isn’t the case.
While it is true that iOS “sandboxes” apps to help prevent them from infecting the device or causing greater problems, that doesn’t mean there is no useful solution for defense. Instead, an app can use its permissions to monitor the network for suspicious activity or to offer checks on device and system integrity. For some high-security applications, these features will be essential.
Does the average user need to rush out and install a mobile defense solution today? Probably not. Even so, it’s important to be aware that this is a growing field. Hackers are always looking for ways to break into iOS and exploit vulnerabilities. In the future, we may all come to have a greater reliance on these threat protection methods. For now, it’s important to avoid the fake, scammy apps and focus on protecting your device from the threats that do exist.