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In the “Android Edition” of this series, we learned that I’m an embittered anti-social ‘tard, and that tablet PCs are just as susceptible to viruses as any other form of computer. We also learned of the Geinimi Trojan virus, which is affecting Android-based devices. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please see the Android Edition of our tablet PC virus & malware series.

In late 2010, Lookout™ Mobile Security discovered the Geinimi Trojan virus infecting a number of Android Mobile OS devices. The Trojan virus was discovered in a number of applications, but it was primarily imbedded in games, such as:

  • Monkey Jump 2
  • Sex Positions
  • President vs. Aliens
  • City Defense
  • Baseball Superstars 2010

Apparently, legitimate apps are cracked by hackers and infected with malicious code. The adulterated apps are then repackaged, and uploaded to Chinese third-party app stores. Given the risks, it’s therefore advisable for Android users to avoid third-party kiosks. In fact, it’s advisable to avoid all third-party kiosks no matter what operating system you use, especially those originating from China.

Apps should only be downloaded from trusted sources such as reputable application markets. When considering an app, purchasers should take into account ratings, user reviews, and the developer of the application. Kevin Mahaffey, Lookout’s Chief Technology Officer says,

People should treat their smartphones (tablets) with the same level of caution and awareness as they do their PCs

Unfortunately, the issue of infected apps is not likely to go away. According to the Lookout™ Mobile Security website,

Android users are two and a half times as likely to encounter malware today than 6 months ago and three out of ten Android owners are likely to encounter a web-based threat on their device each year

So long as there is money to be made, hackers will stop at nothing to access people’s personal information. Often, their goal is to access money and/or credit card information, however they’re not above making trouble just for s*%#s and giggles.

In the Android Edition of this series we learned that there are a number of anti-virus apps/software for your Android based smartphones and/or tablets. So that’s put to bed. What about the Apple iPad? Well, by and large, all permutations of the iPad are unlikely to be infected by viruses and/or malware. This is due in part, to Apple’s system of app distribution. In order for an app to be listed on iTunes, it must first undergo a curated review. This manual review process ensures that all submitted apps are free of viruses and/or malware. It also ensures they do not exceed Apple’s policy restrictions regarding data collection, and API usage. Other standards taken into consideration involve content appropriateness, and user interface guideline compliance. With standards like this, it’s that much more advisable to avoid third-party apps.

If you’re especially paranoid or cautious, you can purchase anti-virus apps/software for your iPad or iPad 2. One such app is VirusBarrier by Intego.

Although there is no known malware for iOS, Trojans, viruses, and worms can be passed on via your iOS device. Thanks to VirusBarrier iOS, you can help eliminate the threat to friends and co-workers by essentially becoming as an intermediate malware filter. With VirusBarrier, you’ll not only protect your own computer, but you’ll also protect those owned by employers, friends, and colleagues.

The basic rule of thumb is this. If it can be uploaded to your iOS device, VirusBarrier can scan it. Naturally, this includes e-mail attachments, however it can also scan files available via remote locations such as MobileMe (now iCloud) and DropBox. By and large, the source of the file is immaterial. Whether it’s downloaded from web servers, WebDAV and/or shared via FTP, you can use VirusBarrier to ensure that the downloaded file is safe.

As described on the iTunes Preview page:

VirusBarrier iOS uses Intego’s award-winning VirusBarrier X6 scanning technology to detect and eradicate all known malware affecting Windows or Macs: viruses, worms, Trojan horses, fake antiviruses, and other types of malware that might otherwise pass through undetected

Apple, of course is renowned for their malware-resistant operating systems. In this case, iOS is no exception. Unfortunately, safety can sometimes be a bit of a double-edged sword. The secure design of iOS prevents VirusBarrier from automatically scanning your files, nor does it abide prescheduled scans. This makes VirusBarrier iOS an “on-demand” detection system. Therefore, when deemed necessary, you can scan files and emails for all of the following:

  • Viruses and malware (Mac, Windows and Unix)
  • Spyware
  • Trojan horses
  • Adware
  • Hacker Tools
  • Dialers
  • Keystroke logging software, and more

In short, VirusBarrier is unobtrusive, thorough and diverse. Scanning takes place “in the background” so it’s remains discrete. It’s thorough, in the sense that it keeps logs of all scans. Lastly, it’s diverse, in that it enables you to do all of the following:

  • Scans ZIP archives
  • Repairs infected files
  • Scans email attachments
  • Scan files downloaded from Safari
  • Scan files accessed by apps supporting inter-app file transfers
  • Scans remote locations, such as DropBox, iDisks, WebDAV and FTP shares
  • Scan websites for known phishing URLs, web threats, and malware hosting

VirusBarrier iOS supports the following formats for inter-app file transfers:

  • Microsoft Word
  • Excel and PowerPoint documents
  • PDFs
  • HTML files
  • JavaScript files
  • Windows executables (.exe)
  • Windows .dll files, and others

VirusBarrier iOS is purchased as a 1-year subscription. A 12-month subscription includes regular updates of malware definitions. Subscriptions are automatically renewed unless the auto-renew feature is turned off in your iTunes Store account. To end your subscription, be sure the auto-renew function is turned off at least 24 hours prior to the end of the current period. Unfortunately, purchasers are not allowed to cancel during an active subscription period.

Customers can purchase an additional subscription for the following yearly amounts:

  • $1.99 USD
  • $1.99 CAD
  • 1.19 £
  • 1,59 €
  • $2.49 AU
  • 230 ¥

Get your subscription to VirusBarrier iOS here.

Download on the App Store

One of the last items on the agenda today is jailbreaking. While jailbreaking can give you full access (or root access) to the operating system, it’s not without potentially significant pitfalls. For one, it will void your warranty. Secondly you run the risk of losing information stored on your iPad. Lastly and probably most important, it will make your iPad far more susceptible to viruses and malware. While jailbreaking will allow you to run software not authorized by Apple, it will also open the door to malware. This is a very important consideration when weighing out the benefits/drawbacks of jailbreaking your iPad. I personally wouldn’t do it, but to each their own. Fortunately, iOS can be fully restored via iTunes, effectively reversing the jailbreaking process.

Last but not least we will cover misleading pop-up ads. For those of you who are truly inexperienced, it’s important to be wary of misleading warnings appearing on your computer/tablet. When surfing the Internet you will eventually encounter a pop-up window warning of a virus attack and/or deficiencies in your virus protection. DO NOT RESPOND TO THESE WARNINGS! They are the construct of hackers attempting to upload malicious software, or spyware to your computer. If you download their software you will be uploading their malware. You don’t want to do that. Remember these are not knights in shining armor looking after you best interest. These are jackals looking to exploit inexperience. Well… that’s a positive note to finish up on.

Stay tuned to Let’s Talk Tablets for more on this nauseating topic.

Related Articles:

Windows Edition: Are Tablets Subject to Viruses or Malware?
Android Edition: Are Tablets Subject to Viruses or Malware?
More Malware Protection For Your Android Tablet

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