It's a huge mistake to remove password prompt for free apps in iOS 6

Apple is reportedly trying to make it easier to install free apps by removing the requirement for an Apple ID password in iOS 6.

According to sources with access to the developer beta of iOS 6, the next version of Apples mobile operating system will allow users to download and install free apps without requiring a password. If Apple doesnt fix that before iOS 6 is officially launched, it will significantly impair the security of iOS devices.

iOS has established a reputation as the more secure mobile platform. The walled garden of the Apple App Store, and the scrutiny apps must go through before theyre available provide additional layers of defense lacking in other mobile operating systems.

In this case, though, Apple seems to be choosing functionality and expediency over security. Its a decision that could come back to haunt Apple, and all iOS users.

Andrew Storms, director of security operations for nCircle, does not approve. The decision to remove password authentication from free app downloads is just another example of Apple making consumers responsible for their own security, and thats always risky at best.

My iPhone and iPad both have passcode protection implemented (as your iOS devices should as well). But, if I do happen to leave my iOS device open, or let someone borrow it for some reason, I can at least rest assured that nobody can install any apps on it without my knowledge because doing so requires my Apple ID password.

Generally speaking, the most I really have to worry about is that one of my kids might fill up my iPhone or iPad with a bunch of silly free games. However, the potential exists for much more nefarious activity. For example, someone with access to your device--a jealous lover or stalker--could install a free app like Finder+ that would let him or her monitor and track your whereabouts.

Granted, the app wont be invisible. You should be able to see the apps that are installed on your device. It is possible, though, for someone to bury the app in a folder where you wont easily spot it, and might not stumble on it for a while.

It also opens the door to more insidious phishing and smishing attacks against iOS devices. An attacker can email or text a link that leads to a malicious app, and as long as its free it might be possible to install that app without your knowledge or approval.

Storms explains, This decision erodes authentication and authorization safe guards. It makes it even easier for users to download apps that will exfiltrate their personal data.

Entering the Apple ID password takes five seconds. The decision to remove that crucial element of authentication in the name of convenience is inexcusable, and Apple should seriously reconsider.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?