Effective antivirus software ensures comprehensive protection against malware and prevents a wide variety of attacks from cybercriminals. No doubt, viruses, worms, Trojans, and other malicious programs can become a serious threat to both a Windows computer and an Android device. But what is the danger situation with an iPhone? Is antivirus software useful or unnecessary for iOS? In this blog post, we get to the bottom of these and other questions.
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Antivirus software on the iPhone: iOS is so safe
Apple’s iOS operating system has long been considered one of the most secure operating systems in some circles and is used on both the iPhone and iPod touch. Since 2019, iPads use a separate iPadOS, which is based on iOS and thus has essentially the same security features.
The operating system with its hidden file system creates a closed environment that makes it nearly impossible for hackers to break in and drop malware. Since Apple does not pass on the iOS source code to app developers, it is difficult for cybercriminals to discover existing vulnerabilities and exploit them later.
iPhone apps can only be obtained from the official app store. Before launch, Apple thoroughly reviews each app. Apps can only be offered through the App Store if they meet the highest standards of data protection, security and content. Apple has already rejected more than 1,000,000 applications for illegal, harmful, unsafe or illegal content.
iPhones have a protection system that protects the operating system from access by other applications. Also, apps cannot access the data of other apps. This not only contributes significantly to the high level of security, but also makes a virus scan by antivirus software technically impossible. A user cannot grant special exception rights.
Viruses and other malicious programs that can damage the system or render it unusable generally do not pose a threat to iPhone users. However, data in iOS is not necessarily in an unconditionally safe place. For example, in 2019 a major vulnerability was discovered that allowed cybercriminals to access some sensitive data, such as WhatsApp chats and contact details. Of course, Apple closed the security hole as soon as possible.
Jailbreak as the biggest security risk
With a jailbreak, in English “prison break”, you can change the operating system in such a way that you can freely install software outside the app store. What sounds like extra freedom can quickly turn into a serious security issue.
For example, in December 2015, the TinyV Trojan, contained in illegal versions of iOS games, spread. The focal point was the Cydia jailbreak store, which offers untested apps that often contain malicious source code.
The NSA also used the back door opened by a jailbreak and gained access to several iPhones with the “Pegasus” tool. The method was not only efficient, but also very complex. In the meantime, all of the Pegasus loopholes have been closed via updates for multiple iOS generations. iOS 12.5.5 was last released in November 2021, removing the attack surface and supporting iPhone 5S and iPhone 6, iPad Mini 2 and 3, iPad Air 1st generation, and iPod Touch 6th generation.
Not jailbreaking is the best option if you want full protection against spyware and other malware.
Conclusion: Is antivirus protection for iPhones useful or unnecessary?
Since the closed system only allows access to verified content and Apple provides comprehensive protection with numerous security measures, antivirus protection is not required. Viruses cannot render an iPhone useless or damage the file system. The one exception is jailbroken iPhones. In view of the high level of security, classic antivirus programs with scanning function cannot be found in the App Store.
But: Internet security apps for iOS cannot be compared to a conventional antivirus and offer numerous security functions that make their use more than recommended. For example, if you buy McAfee Total Protection 2021, you’ll benefit from useful security features such as Anti-Theft Protection, Contacts Backup, Safe Web, Wi-Fi Guard, and VPN. All features are designed to protect your online identity and data. With Internet security apps for iPhone, your end device is even more secure.