Wait. What? Is that possible? I thought iPhones and iPads were nearly impervious to malware and hackers. I mean, even the F.B.I. had trouble getting into an old iPhone. Could your iPhone or iPad get hacked?
Sure. Anything is possible. Sidebar: have you ever wondered why online technology publications compare smartphones or personal computers or tablets you’ve never heard of to anything made by Apple? Because Apple has plenty of customers and such crazy comparisons that blankety-blank is better than an iPhone gets eyeballs for advertisers. So, how can your iPad or iPhone get hacked?
Historically, the day after July 4th is a slow news day so technology writers need to gin up some kind of controversy to capture a few of those aforementioned eyeballs for their advertisers. That means you’ll be treated to crazy headlines here and there that defy common wisdom and stretch your understanding of the universe.
Notorious technologist David Gewirtz does that for a living and recently cobbled together a list of things for iPhone and iPad users to pay attention to so we’ll all remain safe. Whether you pay attention or not is up to you, because the advice is sound, if not falling on deaf ears.
Jailbreaking – this is a big industry, but big only in that a tiny portion of the 1-billion or so iPhone and iPad users actually bother to open up their devices to install applications not found in the iOS App Store. Don’t Jailbreak and you will have fewer problems.
Phishing – is what phished-people do to trap you into installing something bad or capture your username and password by using something fake. It happens. But it’s not limited to iPhone or iPad. That kind of social engineered fakery exists everywhere. Stay safe by using approved apps from Apple and by not visiting websites that offer free everything or anything. They’re out to steal your username and password.
Bad Apps – are what you’re not likely to find many of on the iOS App Store, but they exist in a variety of fashions. Your company, for example, might have an in-house app developer for a special app employees use. That developer could hide bad code in the app and that could get installed on your iPhone or iPad and that, too, could cause some– but not much– mischief. They come in the form of unvetted developer releases for a company or by side loading apps from non-Apple App Stores. Stick with iOS App Store and your problems are limited.
Wi-Fi – is what all of us use but it is possible– not probable, but possible– that your free Wi-Fi at the Mall or elsewhere could harbor a so-called man-in-the-middle attack which could capture your username and password while you’re sipping coffee. A VPN takes care of that potential problem.
Anti-virus Apps – are even on the iOS App Store for both iPhone and iPad and they’re totally, completely, useless because they cannot scan the rest of the files on your device. Don’t waste your time. Nothing to see there. Move along.
How many articles have you read about such malware on iPhones and iPads? Not much, right? Why not? Because there just isn’t much out there; most iPhone and iPad users never run into any of the issues noted above, but it’s worthwhile to give consideration to a few of the basics (noted above).
Writers for technology magazines need to create a little controversy here and there, even when not much exists, because that’s how the medium works. Eyeballs are needed to view advertising which helps to pay salaries of writers who write… well, you get the idea. A recent ZDnet headline said to “Steer Clear Of iOS 11 Public Beta.” The average iPhone and iPad user should. It’s a beta. Duh. But ZDNet is aimed at technologists, not average Apple customers, so the warning likely falls on deaf ears.