Stepping Up iOS Security – The New York Times

Q. Do iPhones and iPads need antivirus software?

A. The number of viruses specifically targeting iOS devices is still low compared with the number of malicious programs aimed at Windows computers, but that does not mean iPhone and iPad users should feel invincible, as hackers are always trying. Apple has built a lot of security into iOS to guard against traditional viruses that can infect an operating system, but users are still targeted by phishing scams and browser pop-ups with malicious intentions.

This is not to say iOS cannot be infiltrated, especially on “jail-broken” devices, in which the user has circumvented Apple’s original system to install software the company considers unauthorized. The iOS App Store offers a number of security programs, but many of them focus more on Wi-Fi safeguards, the encryption of personal files, identity protection, data backup, and the recovery of lost or stolen gadgets than on conventional antivirus defense.

The iOS version of the Safari browser includes a few basic security settings you can use for slightly safer surfing.CreditThe New York Times

Although some security apps warn you of sketchy sites, you may not get much more protection from a third-party program than if you used all the built-in iOS tools. Make sure you have updated the device to Apple’s most current version of iOS (with all the latest bug fixes and security patches), use only App Store software, have a passcode and two-factor authentication enabled, back it up regularly and have configured the Find My iPhone service to find lost hardware.

The iOS Safari browser has some controls — including settings to block pop-up ads and issue warnings against fraudulent sites — but you may still see things like deviously coded browser windows taking over the screen until you force the app to close.

If you have not jail-broken your device, your iPhone or iPad is most likely safe at the moment from any known mobile malware, although you may want to consider a virtual private network (VPN) service for encrypting your internet connections on unfamiliar Wi-Fi hot spots. Password-manager programs and apps that encrypt photos and other files can also protect your personal information.

Personal Tech invites questions about computer-based technology to This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually.


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