There has been a lot of hue and cry — especially since the Epic vs Apple legal saga — about Apple not allowing direct downloads or third-party app stores access on iPhone, something that is called as sideloading. Sideloading apps is a rather common practice on Android smartphones. “Supporting sideloading through direct downloads and third-party app stores would cripple the privacy and security protections that have made iPhone so secure, and expose users to serious security risks,” argues Apple.
iPhone vs Android: Which is more ‘safe’
Apple in the report claims that “over the past four years, Android devices were found to have15 to 47 times more malware infections than iPhone.” The perception that iPhones are ‘safer’ than Android isn’t actually a perception but is true on many levels. However, it’s not as if the iPhone is Fort Knox and no one can infiltrate it. But it is certainly considered safer by cybersecurity researchers.
How smartphones are targeted by cybercriminals
Some of the most common mobile malware that affects smartphone users are adware, ransomware, spyware, which often are fake apps but trick smartphone users. Apple explains that “cybercriminals often reach their targets through social engineering or supply chain attacks, and sometimes use popular social media networks to spread the scams and attacks.” This is where Apple argues that third-party app stores or direct downloads are a huge factor in spreading malicious apps. “The large amount of malware and resulting security and privacy threats on third-party app stores shows that they do not have sufficient vetting procedures to check for apps containing known malware, apps violating user privacy, copycat apps, apps with illegal or objectionable content, and unsafe apps targeted at children,” the company explains.
Apple acknowledged that fraudulent or malicious apps make it onto the App Store as well but it can remove it once discovered and block any of its future variants, thereby stopping its spread to other users. This is something Google also does. Apple says that “if sideloading from third-party app stores were supported, malicious apps would simply migrate to third-party stores and continue to infect consumer devices.”