iOS virii scanners and other unicorns

Posted: May 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

The following article popped up on my twitter feed today.

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/kaspersky-denied-ios-app-apple-buries-its-head-in-the-security-sand/77648

Windows computers for years have suffered the ills of virii and malware so obviously our mobile devices must have the exact same problems and further we must solve these same supposed problems the same old way as before.

This is complete and utter nonsense. It plays on the fears of those who have bad experiences with Windows. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard a Windows user utter the phrase, “my computer is acting up, I wonder if I have a viris.”

Times have changed.

There is a differing level of security standards when it comes to mobile devices. Apple has a curated garden. The apps that are submitted to Apple’s App Store are fully vetted before release. The article does correctly point out one instance, ONE where an app was doing something shady. What happened? The app was booted from the store, the developer cast out of the program unable to submit future apps, done.

Android however has much lower standards. It doesn’t have a curated garden. Numerous reports of problematic applications in Google Play, the Google App store have existed and still do. Google doesn’t fully vet it’s apps like Apple does. Further developers can distribute their apps outside of Google. You can grab an Android up from anywhere just like you can install any old piece of software on your Windows 8 machine.

This article complete misses that point. Apple examined the weak points in the app distribution model and closed the holes where the bad guys were getting in. Google didn’t do that and it’s reputation has paid the price.

Speaking as someone who’s written a few iOS apps, it also needs to be mentioned that iOS is locked down. One’s application doesn’t have access to all data, all the binaries on your device. It’s walled off. A virii scanner on iOS would be a useless charlatan. Apple gives no app developer special access to everything. This hard line keeps out the writers of virii and the virii detectors.

Good riddance.

The iPhone was released on June 29th, 2007. There hasn’t been an iOS virus yet. For almost 5 years of availability, that’s a good record and a long time for those that might write a virus or other malware to have nothing to show for it.

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