iOS devices aren’t known to get viruses particularly easily, however, there are certain instances where you can expose yourself to malicious parties when online. We all wish to keep our devices protected and our information safe, but there might be instances you just can’t control. You might not be aware of certain scam tactics, perhaps your child explored the internet unsupervised for a little and clicked on something they shouldn’t have, or maybe you downloaded the wrong app. Whatever the case, it’s always a good idea to stay up to date on the latest scams and subsequent techniques to keep your iOS device safe. Read on to find out more about App Store scam apps and how you can help avoid them.
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What Are App Store Scams?
There are several different types of App Store scam apps that come in various shapes and sizes. An example of these scam apps includes a VPN app that claims to protect your data and privacy, when in reality, it does nothing except a basic geolocation spoof to make it seem like you’re in another country. These VPN apps often ask you to pay for the service or, in more extreme cases, may collect data about you and sell it to third parties. Another instance of these scams could be a game targeted at children coercing them to spend money knowing they’re impressionable. While the latter might not steal data or inject malware into your device, it uses psychological hacking to entice children to spend money on a game.
App Store scam apps can have multiple goals: siphoning money from you, injecting malware into your device, stealing personal information, or using that information to sell it to advertisers. Many apps utilize trackers to gather data about you so that advertisers can create more personalized adverts that convert better. It’s not always easy to spot an App Store scam, as they’re often disguised as well-built, professional applications. You can ensure you stay safe on your phone in multiple ways so that you don’t get caught off guard and accidentally install one of these applications.
How to Stay Safe on iOS 16
Here are some techniques and ideas to help keep you safe on iOS 16 from App Store scam apps:
Safety Check is a new iOS 16 feature that allows you to revise all app permissions, preferences, and settings. If you see any apps that you don’t feel comfortable sharing information with, you can easily turn off any settings. Safety Check also allows you to review important security aspects, such as passwords, and you can see what information you share with certain people. In the Safety Check screen, you also have an Emergency Reset option. This allows you to immediately reset access for all people and apps and go through an in-depth review of your account’s security. To enter Safety Check, open the Settings app and go to Privacy & Security > Safety Check.
Trackers are what apps and websites use to gather data about you according to their terms and services (which you probably have agreed to unknowingly if you use the app). Trackers could be a crucial part of the app’s service, such as Instagram or Tik Tok and how those apps use trackers to create more personalized feeds and content for you. A few years back, Apple introduced a feature where you could block trackers from certain applications. You’ll notice that whenever you download an app that uses trackers, you get a prompt asking if you wish to allow them to use trackers on your phone. Therefore, the default setting for all new apps is that they don’t have permission. Regardless, to see which apps do have trackers on your phone, open up your Settings app and go to Privacy & Security > Tracking.
Rapid Security Response
On previous iOS iterations, you’d have to perform a whole software update to have the latest security features and patches. Not many people actually update their iPhones right away, and it’s all too common for individuals to run on older iOS versions for a while. This could create security hazards as scammers may look to exploit old security software. With Rapid Security Response, you can install automatic security-specific updates without having to do a whole system update. To enable this setting, first open the Settings app and go to General > Software Update > Automatic Updates > toggle Security Responses & System Files.
Can Your iPhone Get Viruses?
It’s extremely rare to get a virus on your iOS device unless you specifically jailbreak it or are victim to a targeted phishing attack. Scam apps may place malicious trackers on your phone or entice vulnerable individuals to spend money on a faulty app, but it’s rare to find Trojans, adware, or other viruses. It’s best to verify each app you download on the App Store by taking a look at reviews, the amount of times the app has been downloaded, or if it’s from a verified or reputable publisher. Review your app permissions regularly to ensure that you’re comfortable with the information you’re sharing. And last but not least, keep your iOS updated so you can enjoy the latest security features!