Mobile users have come to realize in recent years just how insecure their devices are. Although smartphones today house many apps that get a lot more done than was previously the case, the security aspect has been greatly neglected.
Although smartphones run the same web scripts as normal computers and laptops do, the fact that they are not tailored for smartphones, as well as the meagre security features available in most smartphones, make it even simpler for the vulnerabilities in those web scripts to be exploited on such devices. Even other operating systems have been targeted continuously by hackers. However, over the years, Apple devices have been the cause of envy in users and developers of other platforms.
This is mainly because Apple has always branded its devices as immune, or quite close to the word, to malware and other such agents. This claim was much backed up by their superior statistics in the beginning, but of late, even Apple devices are ending up as victims of cyber-crimes. We take a look at how things stand at present.
Changes in Apple’s malware immunity
Back in the day when Android devices were being flooded with malware, courtesy the feature of allowing app downloads from third-party markets, iOS devices were enjoying the safe guardedness of their well secured App Store. Mac systems, too, were hailed as virtually impenetrable for viruses and malware. Android makes its APIs available to developers, which is something Apple does not do.
The exact procedure that Apple undertakes to vet apps submitted to them by developers before making them available on the App Store isn’t known either. It is, though, far more effective than Google’s Bouncer, which is their vetting apparatus. They take their time in approving an app, but it is time well spent, for it prevents malicious apps from making it to the App Store. Well, at least they used to.
The NVD database for the year 2014 shows that the most vulnerabilities recorded in that year were in Mac OS X and iOS respectively. Windows, the usual suspect, didn’t feature before fourth place, while third place went to Linux Kernel. The iOS XCodeGhost fiasco infected around 400 apps in China and its surrounding regions.
That alone caused a lot of eyebrows to be raised, for people were not used to hearing Apple devices being infected on such a scale. Mac users, too, tend to install antivirus software on their systems, something that was considered useless and even foolish earlier. This goes to show that Apple devices are not as secure as they used to be.
So then, are Apple Devices less vulnerable than others?
The NVD database indeed shows that the most threats reported were in Mac OS X and iOS operating systems. However, Linux Kernel is used on Android phones, so they are not far behind. Android still allows users to download apps from third-party markets. Such markets are centres for hackers to repackage original apps with their malicious ones and infect user devices.
The Stagefright bug showed that there are still many things to take care of in the Google Play Store app vetting system. Linux, too, has seen its fair share of problems recently, with the Shellshock bash vulnerability troubling many users. So even though Apple devices have been proven to be far from immune to viruses, they still are a little ahead of other platforms in terms of total malwares infecting them. Apple devices are, therefore, still less vulnerable than others, but only just.