If you’ve ever searched through the App Store for antivirus or security apps, you were probably shocked the first time to find that there aren’t very many. They definitely exist, but since they are so few and far between, it begs the question: are these types of apps even necessary to install?
Just how vulnerable exactly is the iPhone when up against malware, adware, spyware and the like? Additionally, does the iPhone need some sort of additional security measure perhaps to protect against theft or data loss? Let’s go through how the iPhone handles malicious software, some of the security options currently available and why might or might not need them.
The App Store Approval Process
People generally appreciate it, developers often loathe it: the App Store approval process. This is the strict, timely process that Apple forces upon every single app and app update that gets submitted to the iOS App Store. The main reason is for security. Apple has to dig through the code of every app to make sure it passes security measures, plus run the app to verify it actually works.
It’s because of this that iOS is considered one of the most secure software platforms on the planet — Android isn’t nearly as secure. iOS a gated community that’s very difficult to get into. It’s also this approval process that prevents malware, adware, and even just explicit apps from getting onto anyone’s iPhones. Since the App Store is the only way for the vast majority of consumers to install apps, this works out pretty well.
Important: Have there been cases of malware sneaking by even Apple’s rigorous tests and landing in the App Store? Yes. So as secure as iOS is, it’s not 100 percent bulletproof.
On top of the very small chance of a sneaky app getting past Apple’s approval process, you might also be worried about onlookers through your Wi-Fi connection. Two free apps in the App Store tackle both of these potential issues.
The first is Lookout. Lookout is a triple threat (or should I say a triple anti-threat) that monitors your iPhone’s location, contacts, and security. If your iPhone goes missing you can visit lookout.com once you register to locate it, send an alert signal or send a message to it. It’ll even locate the last known location if the battery dies.
Lookout also automatically backs up all of your contacts for safe keeping should you need to get a new device. And of course, it monitors your iPhone for potentially malicious apps and makes sure you’re running the latest version of iOS so you have all the bug fixes and security patches Apple puts out.
To deal with the matter of your Wi-Fi connection, Betternet is a free and ridiculously easy to use VPN service. VPNs are fantastic if you’re connecting to a public and unprotected Wi-Fi network or even a shared one in the office. It changes your IP address and hides your location so no one with access to the network can check up on what you’re doing. If you’re also connected to a network that blocks certain websites (like social media while at work) Betternet unlocks those too.
Are Lookout and Betternet Necessary?
As useful as Lookout is, Apple’s own Find My iPhone service duplicates the location feature. You can view the location of your iPhone on iCloud.com if it goes missing, send an alert and even lock or erase data from the device remotely. iCloud also keeps your contacts backed up. So really, the only unique feature of Lookout is the app security.
Even then, there is such a minuscule chance of malware getting on the iPhone, you don’t have to go out of your way to install Lookout or any antivirus apps. The vast majority of iPhone users are out of harm’s way even without third-party security software.
Betternet, however, is much more useful. Even if you don’t care about your privacy, you might just want access to some websites you can’t otherwise visit in the workplace. For that and an added blanket of security over Wi-Fi, Betternet comes in handy.