Friday, November 25, 2011

Is your iOS or Android device at risk from virus attacks and malware? - Part 1

There has been a lot of talk the past few weeks about malware for iOS and Android. A few weeks ago white hat hacker and security expert Charlie Miller successfully uploaded malware into Apple iOS App Store. Google has over the past year used its kill switch to remove about 100 malicious Android apps from user devices. 

You have VirusBarrier iOS in Apple's App Store and over a dozen different anti-virus anti-malware apps in the Android Market and the companies behind them hoping you install or buy their apps. Should you be concerned about virus and malware issues on you iOS or Android device?

How Apple protects you. Apple vets the apps found in the Apple App Store. It checks the app to make sure it does not contain a virus or malware before it is allowed to be posted in the App Store. Okay, one made it in and it was a pretty scary app.
The app Miller introduced in the Apple App Store was Instastock. Once Instastock is installed, the connects with a server in Miller's home and  allows Miller to run commands on the infected iOS device. These commands allows data to be stolen and device settings to be modified without you knowledge.

Exploiting a bug on iPhone is nothing new. That is how a iPhone is jailbroken in the first place. iOS security vulnerabilities have been found and patched in the past, and more will be found and patches in the future.

Is it something I would worry about? No. One app in 500,000 is nothing I would worry about. If another one did get through, Apple will send an over-the-air fix ASAP. No system is perfect, but a 0.000002% failure rate is something I would be happy to live with, and that 0.000002% figure actually is too high. It assume all iOS device users would download each and every app in the App Store.

Go over to you favorite forum and try to find a thread of someone who is complaining about iOS malware on their device. Than decide if you need anti-virus protection on your iOS device.

Does Jail-breaking add to the risk in iOS? Well yes, jailbreak your phone, install apps from unauthorized  sources, and yes, there is a additional risk depending on where you get your apps from. Apple's closed system designed to protect you won't be of much use one you get out of it. In this cases some form of anti-virus and malware protection is advisable.

Part 2 of this article is here.

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