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Apple warns: Sideloading apps threatens an iCrime wave

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Apple is fighting back against growing pressure to support sideloading on its App Stores with an extensive 28-page white paper in which it offers stark security and privacy warnings.

The risks of sideloading

The white paper, “Building a Trusted Ecosystem for Millions of Apps – a Threat analysis of Sideloading” argues that because iPhones and other devices capture so much personal information about people, maintaining privacy and security is critical.“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,” the company said.

The European Commission, in addition to lawmakers in some European states, the US, and elsewhere seem at present inclined to make Apple support app sideloading. The EC’s proposed Digital Markets App could force the company to do so. Apple rejects this on the grounds of the potential harm to its customers and its platform.

Apple published a similar document explaining the benefits of its curated App Store in June, warning of significant dangers to the lack of curation. Critics of sideloading argue that while curation isn’t perfect, it is far, far better than nothing.

The paper cites a Nokia study that showed Android suffers up to 47 times more malware than iPhone.  It also reprises a European regulatory agency that reported 230,000 new mobile malware infections per day.

Threat of a new iCrime wave

“Android smartphones are the most common mobile malware targets and have recently had between 15 and 47 times more infections from malicious software than iPhone. A study found that 98 percent of mobile malware targets Android devices.

“This is closely linked to sideloading: In 2018, for example, Android devices that installed apps outside Google Play, the official Android app store, were eight times more likely to be affected by potentially harmful applications than those that did not,” the paper says.

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