The Practice of Sideloading Apps Onto an iPhone From Apple Might Make Users More Susceptible to Phishing

In some of the latest news, Apple is considering allowing EU iPhone users to sideload apps. However, experts in blockchain security have expressed concerns about the potential risks this could pose for cryptocurrency users, mainly regarding an increased vulnerability to phishing attacks.

As per a recent report from Computer World, Apple has announced that iPhone users within the European Union will soon be able to install applications without being restricted to the official App Store.

This move aligns with the Digital Markets Act, a regulation set by the EU to promote fair competition in the digital market. This information aligns with earlier coverage by Bloomberg in late 2022.

A recent study by SlowMist, a renowned blockchain security company, has revealed the risks associated with app sideloading. This practice has proven particularly hazardous for Chinese Android phone users, who have experienced substantial financial losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

These losses resulted from falling victim to phishing attacks facilitated by a counterfeit Skype application that was downloaded from unofficial sources rather than the trusted Google Play Store.

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According to SlowMist, if Apple allowed app sideloading, it could expose crypto users to risks such as phishing attacks, asset theft, and account password theft. This highlights the importance of maintaining a secure environment for crypto users to safeguard their digital assets.

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The MetaMask Crypto Wallet recently faced a temporary setback as it was briefly removed from the Apple App Store.

This unexpected move caused a stir among cryptocurrency enthusiasts and users of the popular wallet. However, the issue was quickly resolved, and the wallet was reinstated on the App Store. Despite this momentary hiccup, MetaMask remains a reliable and secure option for managing digital assets. Its user-friendly interface and robust security features make it easy to use and secure.

According to David Schwed, the Chief Operating Officer of Halborn, a blockchain security firm, the main concern with Apple allowing the sideloading of apps is the increased risk of malicious developers creating fake applications that imitate legitimate ones. These fraudulent apps could be designed to steal sensitive user data.

While Apple’s iOS and iPadOS boast a range of security measures such as sandboxing, declared entitlements, and Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR), it is essential to note that these safeguards may not eliminate the potential dangers presented by cunningly engineered, deceptive applications that aim to exploit user trust. In such cases, data theft, including sensitive credentials, remains possible, remains a possibility.

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Although Apple has chosen not to comment on the reports above, it is worth noting that the company has previously expressed concerns about the potential dangers associated with sideloaded applications. In a whitepaper released in October 2021, Apple highlighted the risks of utilizing such apps. Within the provided document, Apple has put forth a compelling argument stating that implementing sideloading could lead to an increased influx of harmful applications reaching users. This practice would create a more accessible avenue for cybercriminals to precisely target individuals, even if sideloading was restricted solely to third-party app stores.

Furthermore, the company has cautioned that cybercriminals can deceive users into sideloading applications by replicating the visual interface of the App Store.

Defending Against Fraudulent Fishing Attempts

Blockchain security firms provided advice on protecting against phishing attempts from sideloaded apps to crypto users. According to a representative from SlowMist, it is crucial to exercise caution when encountering unfamiliar links. It is recommended to acquire proficiency in recognizing phishing links through fundamental techniques.

Additionally, it is advised to uphold a sense of skepticism and consistently verify the authenticity of all authorization and passwords. The company also highlighted its Blockchain Dark Forest Safeguard manual.

According to Schwed from Halborn, users are advised to be proactive in safeguarding themselves by carefully evaluating the origin of sideloaded apps. Schwed further emphasized the importance of exercising caution and thoroughly assessing the credibility of the app developer.

The most effective way to safeguard against sideloaded malware is to refrain from sideloading applications. The individual mentioned that selecting apps from well-known and trustworthy app stores such as Apple’s App Store or Google Play Store is prudent. These app stores subject apps to thorough security evaluations, substantially diminishing the likelihood of encountering malicious software.

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