Apple warns of cybercrime if the EU forces it to allow others’ software


Apple on Wednesday increased its criticism of draft EU rules that would allow users to install software from outside of its app store, saying it would increase the risk of cybercriminals and malware. But the Coalition for App Fairness, which includes Spotify, Match Group and Epic Games, dismissed Apple’s arguments, saying that built-in security measures like encrypted data and anti-virus programs keep devices safe, not the App Store.

The group wants regulators to relax Apple’s control of its app store so they can bypass it to reach the hundreds of millions of Apple users and also avoid paying commissions of up to 30 percent on in-store purchases.

The iPhone maker was a sharp critic of the rules proposed by EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager, which were announced last year to curb Apple, Amazon, Facebook and the alphabet unit Google.

Building on CEO Tim Cook’s comments in June on the risks to the privacy and security of iPhone devices, Apple published an analysis of the threats of so-called sideloading on Wednesday.

“If Apple were forced to support sideloading, more malicious apps would reach users because it would be easier for cybercriminals to attack – even if sideloading were only limited to third-party app stores,” the report said.

It warned that malicious apps are being migrated to third-party stores and infecting consumer devices while users have less control over downloaded apps.

The study cited figures from cybersecurity service provider Kaspersky Lab, which showed that almost six million attacks on Android mobile devices were affected every month.

A group lawyer, Damien Geradin, said the side loading was just a distraction.

“What is important to us is the obligation that the developers whose apps sell digital goods and services are required to use the Apple in-app payment system,” he told Reuters.

“So Apple’s security requirements have no legs. Alternative payment solutions from Stripe, Adyen or PayPal are as safe as IAP,” he said.

The draft EU rules also target these practices.

Apple also has digital advertisers that it has been arguing with over its new privacy controls designed to prevent them from tracking iPhone users.

“Large companies that rely on digital advertising claim that they have lost revenue because of these privacy features and therefore may have an incentive to sideload their apps to bypass these protections,” the report said.

Vestager’s draft regulations need the green light from EU lawmakers and EU countries before they are expected to become law in 2023.

© Thomson Reuters 2021


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