Downloading apps scares Apple


Smartphone maker Apple has written to lawmakers to oppose assertions that its concerns about the dangers of sideloading apps on phones have been exaggerated. The issue of sideloading, the practice of downloading apps without using the App Store, is one of the fixes that lawmakers hope will open up the market for apps.

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Congress is currently considering a bill aimed at reining in app stores run by Apple and Google. The bill requires companies to allow sideloading.

Apple has argued that such practice may pose a security risk, as it controls apps in the Store in order to keep users safe. The company said it was aware that a critic, computer security expert Bruce Schneier, called its concerns about sideloading unfounded. The company went on to say that most malware does not rely on technical tricks to gain access to devices. But instead it tricks the human user into downloading it. She explained that her review of apps placed in the Store creates a significant barrier against scams, and said this is the most commonly used method for distributing malware. The company acknowledged that Bruce Schneier was right that state-sponsored attackers can bypass smartphone security controls, but said these types of attacks represent a rare threat.

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In the letter seen by Reuters, Apple said: “There is ample evidence to show that third-party app stores are a major vector of malware across platforms that support such stores.” The letter was sent to the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the chair of the Antitrust Subcommittee. The committee voted in early February to ratify the bill. The measure also prevents companies from requiring app providers to use their own payment system, and prevents them from penalizing apps that offer different prices or terms through an app store or other payment system.

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