It's a huge mistake to remove password prompt for free apps in iOS 6

Apple is reportedly trying to make it easier to install free apps by removing the requirement for an Apple ID password in iOS 6.

According to sources with access to the developer beta of iOS 6, the next version of Apples mobile operating system will allow users to download and install free apps without requiring a password. If Apple doesnt fix that before iOS 6 is officially launched, it will significantly impair the security of iOS devices.

iOS has established a reputation as the more secure mobile platform. The walled garden of the Apple App Store, and the scrutiny apps must go through before theyre available provide additional layers of defense lacking in other mobile operating systems.

In this case, though, Apple seems to be choosing functionality and expediency over security. Its a decision that could come back to haunt Apple, and all iOS users.

Andrew Storms, director of security operations for nCircle, does not approve. The decision to remove password authentication from free app downloads is just another example of Apple making consumers responsible for their own security, and thats always risky at best.

My iPhone and iPad both have passcode protection implemented (as your iOS devices should as well). But, if I do happen to leave my iOS device open, or let someone borrow it for some reason, I can at least rest assured that nobody can install any apps on it without my knowledge because doing so requires my Apple ID password.

Generally speaking, the most I really have to worry about is that one of my kids might fill up my iPhone or iPad with a bunch of silly free games. However, the potential exists for much more nefarious activity. For example, someone with access to your device--a jealous lover or stalker--could install a free app like Finder+ that would let him or her monitor and track your whereabouts.

Granted, the app wont be invisible. You should be able to see the apps that are installed on your device. It is possible, though, for someone to bury the app in a folder where you wont easily spot it, and might not stumble on it for a while.

It also opens the door to more insidious phishing and smishing attacks against iOS devices. An attacker can email or text a link that leads to a malicious app, and as long as its free it might be possible to install that app without your knowledge or approval.

Storms explains, This decision erodes authentication and authorization safe guards. It makes it even easier for users to download apps that will exfiltrate their personal data.

Entering the Apple ID password takes five seconds. The decision to remove that crucial element of authentication in the name of convenience is inexcusable, and Apple should seriously reconsider.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

More about Andrew Corporation (Australia)ApplenCircle

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Tony Bradley

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place