How secure is your iPhone?

Z Archive

5 years ago, Apple launched the smartphone that changed the mobile world—the iPhone. It’s hard to remember what the mobile phone market looked like in 2007. Nokia phones dominated most of the world. In North America, Blackberry was mobile—at least for business.

Now iPhone is battling Android to be the most popular smartphone platform in the world.

F-Secure Labs received one of the first iPhones to make it to Europe. Chief Research Office Mikko Hypponen immediately tested it to make sure it could handle a Finnish winter.

As you can see, the iPhone survived and thrived. And on the five-year anniversary of its release Mikko decided that Apple deserved a little congratulations.

Despite the fact that just about every version of its OS has been opened up or “jailbroken” by users, there has not been one piece of malware that has been able to successfully infect unmodified iPhones. If security is the “art of making nothing happen”, Apple’s iPhone security has been a work of art. And they’ve done it with strict controls of applications via their own app store.

However, some experts disagreed with Mikko’s assessment—including our own Security Advisor Sean Sullivan.

Let’s break Sean’s response down. FlexiSPY is malware that was written for “jailbroken” iPhones. XProtect is describing the built-in feature in Apple desktop operating system starting with Snow Leopard that scan files to see if they are malicious.

His last point is a major grievance that security experts like Sean and Mikko have been airing for a long time. Apple will not work with vendors like us so that we can provide additional, optional anti-virus protection. Realtime anti-virus would be an essential layer of protection in the case of a malware outbreak.

But Apple has five years of success to counter that argument.

One thing for sure is that you cannot use your iPhone believing you’re magically free of all threats. You’re just as likely are more likely to be victimized by a phishing scam, as we’ve learned to accept dodgy-looking mobile sites on our phones.

Your kids can also get into trouble by accessing content or people you can limit on your phone. That’s why we released F-Secure Child Safe for your child’s iPhone or iPad. It’s our first iOS app and we’d love for you to check it out.

Was security a big concern when you picked out your phone? Let us know in the comments.

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