Apple explains why sideloading is a risk on the iPhone

In the midst of several antitrust investigations and lawsuits, Apple posted a document to explain in detail why the opening to alternative stores on iOS will lead to security and privacy problems.

The sideloading refers to the installation of apps from a source outside the official App Store, such as a third-party website or store.

In a new document shared on its privacy website, Apple explains that theApp Store plays an important role in protecting users, as the company reviews all apps and updates submitted by developers to make sure they are free of inappropriate content, privacy violations, known malware, or other violations of store guidelines.

The document cites the report published by Nokia on mobile threats in 2020, which shows that Android devices were infected with significantly more in malware compared to iPhones, in part due to the fact that Android allows apps to be sideloaded outside the Google Play Store.

One study found that Android devices had 15 times more malicious software infections than iPhones, with a key reason being that Android apps can be downloaded from virtually anywhere, while iPhone users can only download apps from one source. : the App Store.

Apple said it would allow the sideloading on iPhoneit would spur a wave of new investments in targeted attacks on the iOS platform“:

Due to the large size of the iPhone user base and the sensitive data stored on their phones (photos, location data, health and financial information), allowing sideloading would spur a wave of new investment in platform attacks. Attackers would benefit from sideloading by dedicating more resources to developing sophisticated attacks targeting iOS users, thus expanding the set of exploits and attacks that all users must be protected from. This potential increase in malware attacks exposes all users to greater risk, even for those who only download apps from the App Store.

Apple added that allowing sideloading could potentially force users to accept privacy and security risks, because some apps needed for work, school or other activities may no longer be available on the App Store, and scammers could trick users into thinking they are safely downloading apps from the App Store when they are not.

Apple adds that users would be forced to monitor and control possible scams, never knowing who or what to trust, and consequently sthey would load fewer apps from fewer developers. On the other hand, Apple described the App Store as a “reliable place“, Noting that its many levels of security provide users with an unprecedented level of protection.

Along with this document, Apple’s user privacy officer Eric Neuenschwander made important statements to Fast Company.

Sideloading in this case is effectively eliminating the choice. Users who want direct access to applications without any kind of revision have sideloading to other platforms today. The iOS platform is where users know they are safe. If sideloading is also forced on iOS, this free choice is lost and there will be more risks for everyone.

Rare cases of malware have also been spotted on iOS, without too much risk for users, but opening to third-party stores would make these risks much higher. Today, we’re running two security checks that protect users from malicious apps.

The first relates to developer policies and processes, which govern what an app can and cannot do. Apple can check if a developer is following these policies, because real people review every app submitted to the App Store. And by uploading an app to the App Store, that app is also automatically scanned for known malware, protecting users even more from malicious apps.

The second security check concerns the users themselves. Since Apple requires developers to ask the user for permission before they can access features like an iPhone’s microphone or camera, a user can identify if something shady is going on inside the app.

Of course, iOS users who want Apple’s protections would still be free to just use the official App Store, but Neuenschwander claims they could be fooled without realizing it due to the nature of sideloading:

Even users who intend to download apps only from the App Store would take risks. The bad guys could use several ways to trick users into believing they are downloading an app from the official store. And so users will be attacked regardless of whether or not they intend to browse app stores other than Apple’s.

Neuenschwander, however, offered weak arguments as to why, if all this is true, the company doesn’t take the same approach to the Mac. “There are more iPhones than Macs”Replied the Apple manager. “We carry iPhones around more than Macs. We install fewer apps on Macs than on iPhones“. But none of these statements answered the question and contradiction.

What do you think?

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Source: iPhone Italia by www.iphoneitalia.com.

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