iOS Users Aren’t So Immune to Threats After All

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10 years ago, Fergie and Gwen Stefani were at the top of the charts, and Juno had just been released. While we relaxed in velour tracksuits and shred on Rock Band’s faux guitar, we were also obsessing over the release of what was about to be the biggest game changer to the world of mobile tech, the iPhone. It’s hard to believe it’s already been ten years since the first generation of iPhone was introduced to the world, with its 3.5 inch touchscreen, but Apple products have seen a complete resurgence and gained a cult following over the last decade.

Apple products offer many reasons for such obsession: user-friendly interfaces, incredible displays for design, and excellent malware protection through constant system updates. However, the rumor that Apple’s suite of devices is entirely unhackable and virus-proof is simply untrue.

Historically, yes, Windows devices have had a much more public struggle with virus infections. Any Windows user can tell you a horror story about the time the infamous “blue screen of death” struck right before they hit “save” on a report, or the time their Android phone was hacked through a faulty app. Somewhere along the way, Apple products became the “anti-Windows,” and were reputed to be immune to any incoming viruses. As people depend more and more on their iPhones, however, cybercriminals are becoming more interested in creating malware and viruses targeted to mess with your Apple devices.

One of the biggest iPhone viruses to hit iOS devices was Pegasus, which is considered one of the most sophisticated pieces of software ever created to spy on a smartphone. It’s not possible for users to detect Pegasus on their mobile devices, even once the phone has been infected. The malware engrains itself so deeply into a device that it can see a message before it is sent – meaning that the hacker can essentially watch your thoughts typing out on the keyboard before making the final decision to send anything. In August of 2016, Apple issued a statement to all iPhone users, suggesting that they install the latest security update to prevent Pegasus from installation on any more phones. However, if the malware has already infected your phone, there is no way to remove it.

Although Pegasus has had the most severe impact, there have been other types of viruses to hit Apple mobile devices. Dirty COW is another vulnerability that was found affecting iOS devices, “Worms” are a type of virus that can enter a phone once it has been jailbroken, and KeRanger and FileCoder are ransomware that have been directed at iOS devices over the past few years. So how can you continue your love affair with your iOS device and be sure that you can stay as safe as possible from Apple-targeting malware?

  1. Fixate On Updates Apple has an incredible response time for reacting to security breaches like Pegasus, but the most effective way to keep viruses out of your devices is to keep them updated. Each update contains stronger security measures than the last and addresses updates to known vulnerabilities.
  2. Forget Jailbreaks Jailbreaking seems cool at first, since doing so lets you take total control of your mobile device. However, opening your phone up to cool fonts and themes isn’t worth the rest of the vulnerabilities you unlock in the process. The operating system, and the security measures that come with it, become void when you jailbreak, leaving you with no protections against harmful viruses trying to enter your device.
  3. Fight Back One of the best ways to be proactive about protecting your mobile device is to fight back with malware protection. Security solutions like McAfee Mobile Security, which is free for both Android and iOS, can help protect personal files.

If you think it’s too late for preventative measures and that your phone has already been hacked, it’s important that you delete unfamiliar apps, and change passwords. There are many ways to tell if your phone’s security has been breached, like odd credit card payments and bank account activity, so pay close attention to your accounts.

It’s easy to get caught up in the beauty and functionality of Apple products, but it’s equally as important to maintain your personal security while using them. Once you fall for a malware attack or your device is hit with a virus, it immediately loses its luster. Taking these few precautions will ensure a much simpler time in ramping up your personal security.

Categories: Mobile and IoT Security
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