This App Knows If Your iPhone Has Been Hacked – Do You?

This App Knows If Your iPhone Has Been Hacked – Do You?

This article is more than 3 years old.

Finding a security toolkit that works meaningfully on the iPhone is a bit like looking for a needle in a thousand haystacks. Apple has made it nearly impossible for such apps to enter the App Store, with rules for scanning other apps and data front and center of the brick wall they have erected. So, is a new app the safety pin you’ve been looking for? If you’re running iOS 12 or higher, the answer might be a reserved yes: iVerify reckons it can tell if your iPhone has been hacked.

There are no iPhone antivirus apps in the App Store

There is a reason why there are no “proper” antivirus apps in the Apple App Store because Apple bans them. Apple developed the iOS platform with security at its core; it speaks for itself, and users are meant to just accept it. In fairness, iOS is a pretty secure platform, and the iPhone doesn’t suffer nearly as many security issues as Android smartphones as a result. Not that the iPhone is immune to security and privacy issues, as the recent 1.1 billion eGobbler bot host attack illustrated.

But back to the point I made about security apps, Apple ensures that all apps run in sandboxes to prevent them from accessing the data of other apps or tampering with iOS files. Also, Apple only allows apps from the App Store to be installed unless you have a business developer account or jailbreak iPhone. All of this makes life tough for users who want to go the extra mile when it comes to security issues, and for security researchers looking for vulnerabilities to report. The argument that what makes life easier for ethical hackers also applies to cybercriminals is there to be made, but one can always throw back the concept of open source as an answer. However, that debate is not one I am entering into now. Developers of meaningful iPhone security tools have generally found themselves in a “head, meet wall” situation when trying to get their apps into the App Store. Some, such as Corellium which bypassed the App Store, have even experienced legal action from Apple itself.

What does iVerify do that is different?

The iVerify app from Trail of Bits has apparently managed to get Apple’s seal of approval and is now available on the App Store. Unlike most other “security” apps in the App Store, iVerify includes a scanning element that can be very useful. Although it is certainly not an antivirus product. What it is, is an anti-hacking scanner. It could also be $4.99 (£3.85) well spent. iVerify exists to scan for the side effects and anomalies that an iPhone hack, or jailbreak, can throw up. If an anomaly is detected, the user is warned and offered advice on how to handle the situation.

Dan Guido, the founder of Trail of Bits, told Motherboard, “the jailbreak detection uses side channels to find out information outside the sandbox.” However, Guido also said that sandboxing apps means “we’re playing a losing game because of the way the platform is set up, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.”

How does iVerify detect iOS hacking?

The way Trail of Bits tries involved studying previous jailbreaks that were made public, including those that used vulnerabilities to get the all-important iOS “root” to bypass app installation restrictions. “iVerify periodically scans your device for anomalies that may indicate it has been compromised, provides you with a detailed report of what was discovered, and provides practical advice on how to proceed,” according to a Trail of Bits blog post.

Not everyone is convinced that iVerify will succeed, and some security app developers have expressed surprise that such an app has even entered the App Store given the strict rules Apple uses. It remains to be seen if either Apple’s stance has softened or Trail of Bits has managed to convince it that iVerify stays within the app’s guidelines.

Keeps your iPhone safe

In addition to the anti-hacking scanner functionality, iVerify also includes several security guides to help users lock down their devices against attacks. Alternatively, if you want to find out how to make your iPhone more secure, reading these 26 essential tips from 12 security experts is an excellent place to start.

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