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Beware, iOS malware is on the horizon

iOS has been regarded as the “safe” operating system - believed by many to be impenetrable, but how true is that? That’s the question mobile security firm Lookout (opens in new tab)asked itself before taking a closer look at the Apple’s ecosystem for malware.

Their conclusion? The iOS App Store is not the impenetrable walled garden you think it is.

Today, iOS malware looks a lot like Android malware in 2010, meaning it’s still in its infancy. Jumping from jailbroken devices to non-jailbroken, before ending up at the store - that’s the path of malware within the Apple ecosystem today.

Kevin Mahaffey, Lookout’s chief technology officer, predicts that 2015 is going to bring on a new wave of iOS attacks that will fundamentally change the iOS threat landscape.

"Bad guys are rational economic actors. Because Android is so much more popular in the world they're targeting the largest platforms first,” says Kevin Mahaffey. “Criminals are soon going to double down on this OS with targeted attacks.”

Apple’s app review process - a manual one where humans look at each app that is approved for distribution in the official App Store - has done a good job of keeping less sophisticated malware off iOS devices, though it’s not perfect. For the malware that does make it onto iOS devices, attacks can actually execute a lot of the same malicious actions.

The time for Apple to be vigilant is now: the number of people actually affected by malware is significantly higher on android, but in terms of what malware can do when actually on the device, the groundwork has been laid for significant threats to emerge, Lookout concludes.

The security firm published an infographic on the iOS threats which you can check out below:


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Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.