Thursday, 1 July 2021 -
Apple has, on Wednesday 23 June, published a Whitepaper that essentially reiterates why the company isn’t opening its mobile App Store to alternative apps Stores any time soon.
The tech giant has long argued against allowing access for sideloaded apps on the iPhone or apps from other App Stores. In the latest report titled “Building a Trusted Ecosystem for Millions of Apps,” the company seeks to convince users of the data risks associated with sideloading, and how the company can protect your data by maintaining the status quo.
In their defence, Apple argues that the App Store protects user data, and lets you download apps without malware. The company further argues that App Store is equipped to detect and block all attacks, but sideloading induces a loophole in the App Store’s threat protection model; something that will give attackers ample leverage to develop more sophisticated attacks on user’s data.
The Risks Associated with Sideloading
The Whitepaper also explains that should the company be forced to load third-party applications on the iPhone and iPads, the app market would irrevocably be destroyed. Among others, Apple insisted that sideloading could risk the following:
Loss of data privacy.
Piracy or downloading of copycats via websites and other alternative App Stores.
Downloading apps with spyware/malware.
Installation of games that violates parental controls, thus exposing children to harm.
Pointing to Google's Play Protect program that protects businesses by blocking sideloaded apps, the iPhone maker argued that App Store is designed with automated scanning processes that protect iPhones and iPads from malicious applications. And to ensure data security, Apple is profusely arguing against allowing access to its App Store from third-part App Stores.
The Big Tech Powers
The timing of the Whitepaper coincides with Congress's plans to debate several antitrust bills intended to curb the business monopoly power by the Big Tech companies. The bills will relate to a wide range of topics that will include the controversial acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram by Facebook, and Apple’s closed market App Store.
Apple’s Status Quo
Apple argues that Android, which allows sideloading and is considered an open market, is riddled with security loopholes. Currently, the only way users can install an app on iOS is via the App Store. And according to Apple’s chief of software, Craig Federighi, the amount of malware on Macs, for instance, is huge and unacceptable. But since the market has more iPhones than Macs, Craig believes that it’s dangerous to allow third-party apps for iPhones because they are designed with children and user data protection in mind.
Apple’s head of user privacy Eric Neuenschwander argued in a recent interview that it is critical to keep the App Store protected. He stated that the iPhone is a device you carry around with you, and since it identifies your location, it is easier for somebody to grasp your pattern of life and other sensitive data that could entice attackers.
The Bottom Line
In the 16-page whitepaper report, Apple is trying to reiterate its stance of blocking third-party App Stores and sideloaded apps from access to its App Store. And while the antitrust bills are just getting underway, it remains to be seen whether the tech giant would be forced to open its App Store.
(Written and edited by: The Decision Maker Team)