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Threat Intelligence

Apple iOS Threats Fewer Than Android But More Deadly

Data leakage and corruption haunt iOS and Android mobile apps the most, a new study shows.

Apple's iOS mobile platform suffers fewer cyberattacks than Google's Android, but a new study shows that when iOS does get hit, the attacks are more severe.

Pradeo's biannual mobile applications threat review report, released today, examines the mobile threat landscape based on a recent portion of the 1.5 million single applications processed by the firm. "What is interesting is that the iOS does not have the same degree of problems as Android," says Vivien Raoul, Pradeo's chief technology officer, of the findings. "Although it comes less often, it is generally more of a serious problem that affects the system itself."

The iOS system after downloading an app asks the user each time if he or she wants the app to access their personal databefore allowing that task to launch, while Android just automatically launches once the app has been downloaded, Raoul explains.

A compromised iOS system can allow data leakage and corruption to occur, he says. According to the Pradeo study, data leakage and corruption affect 47.8% of iOS applications that carry malicious or intrusive behavior.

 

 [Source: Pradeo]

When it comes to all mobile applications with malicious intent or intrusive behavior, data leakage or corruption is by far the worst for both iOS and Android, accounting for 60.7% of the cases, according to the study. Communications exploits represented 12.5% and system manipulation 5.5%. Malware, however, accounts for only 1.5%.

That ranking also largely held true among the most popular applications – games, entertainment, and tools. The only exception is tools, where system manipulation has a higher occurrence frequency in those apps than communications exploits.

 [Source: Pradeo]

For Pradeo's Raoul, one of the more surprising figures in his firm's report was the degree that zero-day threats are growing. Applications embedding unknown malware threats have quadrupled over the past year, the study shows.

 "There are new techniques every year and the attackers have a huge imagination," Raoul says.

The study also found that 25% of mobile applications carry vulnerabilities, of which 75% of these flaws are among the top 10 Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) vulnerabilities.

"The top 10 OWASP are critical vulnerabilities, but in most cases, these vulnerabilities will affect the performance of the app and not the device or system," Raoul explains. As a result, companies may not be quick to patch these vulnerabilities on their company owned smartphones or nudge their BYOD workers to install an update patch.

Related Content:

Dawn Kawamoto is an Associate Editor for Dark Reading, where she covers cybersecurity news and trends. She is an award-winning journalist who has written and edited technology, management, leadership, career, finance, and innovation stories for such publications as CNET's ... View Full Bio

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SchemaCzar
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SchemaCzar,
User Rank: Strategist
6/21/2017 | 11:55:10 AM
Article is unclear - seems mostly Pradeo talking points
The key graphs in this article describe only those applications exhibiting malicious or intrusive behaviors.  This offers no assistance to the administrator.  What are the raw numbers of such applications on each platform?  How many are in each platform's App Store?  Is Pradeo including apps for jailbroken iOS devices, or back-revved versions of iOS?

If at most 1% of iOS applications exhibit malicious or intrusive behaviors, then we are talking about effectively no problem at all.  The fact that 67.2% of 1% leak or corrupt data is trivial.

' "What is interesting is that the iOS does not have the same degree of problems as Android," says Vivien Raoul, Pradeo's chief technology officer, of the findings. ' - yes, very interesting, and we need numbers!  How much more hazardous is Android, or how much safer is iOS?

Regrettably the net is that this article conveys no actionable information.
KaylaW244
50%
50%
KaylaW244,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/22/2017 | 1:03:36 AM
Re: Article is unclear - seems mostly Pradeo talking points
A compromised iOS system can allow data leakage and corruption to occur
PWA-web
100%
0%
PWA-web,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/23/2017 | 11:17:58 AM
Re: Article is unclear - seems mostly Pradeo talking points
Yes, you're right !
Joe Stanganelli
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50%
Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
6/25/2017 | 6:07:36 PM
Re: Article is unclear - seems mostly Pradeo talking points

Well, to be fair, the article is an overview/feature of a much more in-depth study.

Fortunately, it appears that the study/report can be accessed here: pradeo.com/en-US/datasheet/mobile-applications-threats-review-S12017

Joe Stanganelli
50%
50%
Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
6/25/2017 | 6:04:29 PM
iOS security
What's interesting is that a 2015 study based on federal gov't data indicated that 96% of exploits were for Android -- whereas Apple operating systems (both OSX and iOS) had the most reported vulnerabilities of any operating systems by far. That combined with this data implies interesting lessons about patch management, as well as about "M&M security" (i.e., "hard on the outside, soft in the middle").

IOS generally has an excellent walled garden (well, excellent from a security perspective (if not so much a developer perspective) for the reasons here described -- particularly when compared with Android -- but it's important to not bet everything on that outer shell. For its part, at least, it appears that Apple is responsive about patching (even if the company is often too quick to release major updates).
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