Security App Aims to Keep Malware From Spreading Through iOS Devices

It seems that every other week there are reports about new malware targeting Android devices though the Android Market. To date, there have been no viruses, rootkits or Trojans that have been able to worm through the Apple App Store into user devices. That doesn’t mean that iOS devices cannot be conduits for malware.

VirusBarrier is designed to scan attachments in users’ email through the cloud to determine if they are carrying malware that could harm a users’ computer. Security company Intego designed the app to keep malware from spreading from mobile devices to computers where it could do more harm than if it were couched in the kernel of an iPhone. VirusBarrier is one of the first malware scanners designed for iOS devices. How big of a problem is spreading malware from mobile devices to computers? Is an app like VirusBarrier even necessary?

As iOS devices make their way into the enterprise, they become a new attack vector for malware pushers looking to gain hooks into the network. An increasing amount of malware is also being pushed through a tactic known as spear-phishing (or whale-phishing in the case of top-level executives) that targets a specific group of people.

Employees often check their email from their mobile devices like iPads and iPhones and malware spreading through the enterprise could only be a matter of plugging that phone into to a computer or forward a malicious email to a colleague.

VirusBarrier follows trends used by other security companies such as Symantec and Lookout when it comes to mobile security by running scans in the cloud. Anti-malware applications are computing intensive and take up resources on hard drives, which is not practical for mobile devices running flash memory on limited processors. Hence, Intego runs security scans from the mobile device into the cloud where attachments are scanned against the company’s database of malware definitions. The use of the cloud enables applications to have access to vast libraries of security company’s malware definitions without using the limited resources available on tablets or smartphones.

The average user that does not get a lot of emails probably does not have a lot of use for an app like VirusBarrier. Yet, for power users checking their emails all day and connecting to lots of people through their iPhones, it is a useful application to have around. It is available in the App Store for $2.99, which includes a 12-month subscription to Intego’s malware dictionary.

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