For Apple, alternative stores are a security concern

For Apple, alternative stores are a security concern

For Apple

Cupertino against sideloading advanced by the European Commission in its proposal on digital markets: it represents a risk for cybersecurity

(Photo: Pixabay) Apple's Maginot line against sideloading is exactly 31 pages long. They might seem few but the density of contents and numbers against the possibility that alternative app stores to its official will be imposed on it is reminiscent of reinforced concrete. The report Building a trusted ecosystem for millions of apps released today is in fact an anabolic version of the one from last June. The company's thesis is that if the European Commission decides with the Digital Markets Act (Dma), the directive on digital markets under discussion in Brussels, to impose a different management of app distribution, to encourage competition, they will put themselves at risk. millions of consumers.

"Supporting sideloading through direct downloads and third-party app stores would mutilate the privacy and security protections that have made the iPhone so secure and expose users to serious security risks," says Apple. The document obviously does not enter into the merits of the competition issue but limits itself to ascertaining the state of things with data and considerations, at least from the point of view of cybersecurity. On the other hand, Apple over time has never hinted that there may be alternatives to its App store. However, the European Commission has at least two more years to reach a compromise.

The numbers of Cupertino

Apple has used almost 150 authoritative sources to give numerical substance to its report. For example, the clear difference between Android and iOS security stands out, with the first severely tested by about 6 million attacks per day and consequently to a number of malware infections between 15 and 47 times more than the iPhone. Net of the dizzying disproportion, it is also true that the global market is dominated by Android with around 72%, while iOS is at around 26% (data from StatCounter, September 2021).

The fact remains that 230 thousand new malware infections are calculated per day and when one hits the smartphone of a company or even the public administration the average cost is 10 thousand dollars, according to estimates by the Ponemon Institute.

It is a field of war, we know, and as such it also requires defenses that, according to Safety Detectives, have led consumers to spend 3.4 billion dollars a year, four times more than in 2016. Trivially, once upon a time there was no question about a possible antivirus mobile, now even the most irresponsible at least has a doubt.

Cyber ​​dangers

The conclusion that Apple reaches is that the greatest risks are present on platforms that support sideloading: in fact, direct download or between mild alternative app stores. And the reason is that the app review phase can become complex or impossible. In addition, there is a theme of disruption of the ecosystem. If a successful app is only available in alternative realities, how could related phenomena that affect security be countered?

The bottom line is that there is no single enemy. There are adware, ransomware, spyware and Trojans to steal credentials and credit card codes. It was also enough that a successful app like Clubhouse was limited to the iOS world to spread an alleged Android version that later proved to be a Trojan. All by simply using a spoofed version of the official Clubhouse page with the Get it on Google Play link.

“The vast majority of malware, over 99 percent, comes from sideloaded apps, because proprietary stores like the App Store have protections in place that prevent these distribution techniques from targeting users, ”Apple asserts. And among the techniques are that of the fake app that copies another, fake software updates, fake notifications of security problems.

less secure iPhones

Apple is convinced that sideloading in the iOS ecosystem would make iPhones less secure, regardless of how. Malware in this environment according to several reports, including the latest from Nokia 2020, is very rare. And this is due not only to the company's commitment on this front but also to how its ecosystem was conceived and developed. “Sideloading is not in the best interests of users,” says Apple. Because as the main security agencies or specialists report, third-party stores are a big risk. So much so that Cupertino quotes the same Community Agency for cybersecurity (Enisa) against the European proposal: "Users should only download applications from Google Play and not from third-party sources, to minimize the risk of installing a malicious application".

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