On Tuesday Apple announced its latest iPhone models and a new piece of wearable technology some have been anxiously waiting for — Apple Watch.
TechRadar describes the latest innovation from Cupertino as “An iOS 8-friendly watch that plays nice with your iPhone.” And if it works like your iPhone, you can expect that it will free of all mobile malware threats, unless you decide to “jailbreak” it.
The latest F-Secure Labs Threat Report clears up one big misconception about iOS malware: It does exist, barely.
In the first half of 2014, 295 new families and variants or mobile malware were discovered – 294 on Android and one on iOS. iPhone users can face phishing scams and Wi-Fi hijacking, which is why we created our Freedome VPN, but the threat of getting a bad app on your iOS device is almost non-existent.
“Unlike Android, malware on iOS have so far only been effective against jailbroken devices, making the jailbreak tools created by various hacker outfits (and which usually work by exploiting undocumented bugs in the platform) of interest to security researchers,” the report explains.
The iOS threat that was found earlier this year, Unflod Baby Panda, was designed to listen to outgoing SSL connections in order to steal the device’s Apple ID and password details. Apple ID and passwords have been in the news recently as they may have played a role in a series of hacks of celebrity iCloud accounts that led to the posting of dozens of private photos.
Our Mikko Hypponen explained in our latest Threat Report Webinar that many users have been using these accounts for years, mostly to purchase items in the iTunes store, without realizing how much data they were actually protecting.
But Unflod Baby Panda is very unlikely to have played any role in the celebrity hacks, as “jailbreaking” a device is still very rare. Few users know about the hack that gives up the protection of the “closed garden” approach of the iOS app store, which has been incredibly successful in keeping malware off the platform, especially compared to the more open Android landscape. The official Play store has seen some infiltration by bad apps, adware and spamware — as has the iOS app store to a far lesser degree — but the majority of Android threats come from third-party marketplaces, which is why F-Secure Labs recommends you avoid them.
The vast majority of iPhone owners have never had to worry about malware — and if the Apple Watch employs the some tight restrictions on apps, the device will likely be free of security concerns.
However, having a watch with the power of a smartphone attached to your body nearly twenty-four hours a day promises to introduce privacy questions few have ever considered.
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