Mark Bridge writes:
“Torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool, loving both of you is breaking all the rules”.
Mary McGregor sang those words in 1976 – and Apple would do well to bear them in mind today. Why? Well, Rick Astley is to blame for it all.
Oh, alright, Rick’s not personally involved. It’s worm-writer ikee, along with the people who’ve followed him in creating security threats for the Apple iPhone. But why am I invoking the lyrics of Mary McGregor?
It’s because Apple has two loves... and it may be struggling to choose between them. It loves its customers. My, how it loves its customers. When Apple opened a shop in Brighton, the staff applauded me when I walked in. (No, I don’t think they recognised me from my podcasting fame; they were applauding everyone). But Apple also loves its application store. In fact, it spends most of its TV ads promoting other people’s software.
And that’s where the problem starts. Apple likes to keep things in the app store locked down. Some iPhone customers like things a little more open, which is why they jailbreak their phones. And those jailbroken phones are susceptible to viruses and worms (especially if users don’t change their default passwords).
Where’s the anti-virus software for the Apple iPhone? Nowhere. That’s because Apple’s software development kit doesn’t let programs interfere with other programs. Unfortunately anti-virus software needs to look at everything – which is why you won’t find any anti-virus software for iPhones at the moment.
Now, you could argue – and Apple probably would argue – that unmolested iPhones (or ‘jailed’ iPhones, I suppose) don’t have any security issues. That certainly seems to be the case at the moment. It’s a reasonable point.
But we’re moving into a time where an increasing number of iPhones are being sold. And that means an increasing number of second-hand iPhones on the market. Which means there’ll be even more jailbreaking going on - and more people with potentially vulnerable Apple devices.
One solution would be for a security company to create software that protects jailbroken iPhones. But another – and surely a better answer – would be for Apple to concentrate on its customer love and find a way of authorising an iPhone security solution that would work with all its mobile phones. Because I can’t believe it’ll be too long before someone creates a virus that’ll work on an unmodified iPhone. And when that happens, Apple risks losing both of its lovers.