The Macalope Daily: Drive-by shooting

CNet’s Lance Whitney provides a great example of how tech journalists provide “balance” in a story.

While completely missing what’s really going on.

Malware loves Android, but iOS users, do take care

How iOS users are supposed to “take care” is not discussed.

Malware aimed at Google’s mobile OS surged to 13,000 samples at the end of last year from only 400 in June, an increase of 3,325 percent.

Wow! That’s a lot of percent! Shouldn’t that be in the title? No, we must spend almost half of the article finger-wagging at the company with the significantly more secure platform.

“While malicious applications on the iOS platform are limited in large part due to Apple’s closed application marketplace and stringent screening model, it does not necessarily make it fundamentally more secure,” Juniper said in its report. “For one, when a user ‘jailbreaks’ their device by removing the limitations on the operating system, the device can be susceptible to malicious applications downloaded from third-party sources.”

Yeah! Maybe that’s why Apple doesn’t support jailbreaking.

In fact, an iOS security flaw was discovered in November that allowed apps to download potentially malicious unsigned code. Apple patched the flaw with its iOS 5.0.1 update. And an app exploiting this type of flaw would’ve been rejected during Apple’s approval process. But the incident did show that even iOS isn’t invulnerable.

Of course it’s not invulnerable. It’s just so much less likely to be affected by malware than Android that to create false equivalencies between it and a platform exploding with malware is laughable.

What could possibly be driving this? What? Could? It? Be?

“This lack of software protection and a competitive security market leaves users with little protection if malware were ever to make it through Apple’s application vetting process,” Juniper noted.

Oh. “Little protection”. Really. The fact that Apple can remotely disable apps and provides timely updates that it delivers to all currently supported phones is “little” protection. That’s an interesting opinion.

“In the long run, this could create a false sense of security for Apple users and prove to be an even bigger risk than Android’s open model.”

Really.

Uh-huh.

Here’s the Macalope’s translation of Juniper’s report: “We are really, really mad that Apple won’t let us make antivirus software for iOS. Furious, really.”

Thaaat’s right. Juniper makes mobile antivirus and antimalware software.

What a coincidence!

According to the company’s report (PDF):

Apple prevents development of anti-malware applications for its devices, which limits the availability of a competitive security market for its platform. This means there is less innovation on security controls and no available protections for consumers against a potential malware outbreak.

This means Juniper does not make any money off of iOS.

Period.

As the Macalope has long said, the computer security industry has always struck him as being a bit like the mob: “This is a nice operating system you got here. It’d be a shame if something were to happen to it.

Whitney, of course, does not mention Juniper’s motivation anywhere in his piece. Which is too bad, as that would have provided some actual balance.

[Editors’ Note: In addition to being a mythical beast, the Macalope is not an employee of Macworld. As a result, the Macalope is always free to criticize any media organization. Even ours.]

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