“Sideloading is a cybercriminal’s best friend”—Apple's Craig Federighi at his Web Summit keynote

“Sideloading is a cybercriminal’s best friend”—Apple's Craig Federighi at  at his Web Summit
Yes, folks, the 2021 Web Summit event is now almost at its end, and as usual, it was one full of intriguing presentations and discussions. This time around, it took place in Lisbon, Portugal, and officials from companies all over the world came to visit. To name a few of them, Amazon’s SVP of Alexa Tom Taylor, Reddit COO Jen Wong, Vice Media CEO Nancy Dubuc, and more were at the conference.

Another popular guest was Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi. During his keynote speech, Federighi focused mainly and heavily on the topic of sideloading and why he thinks it is a bad idea when it comes to Apple devices.

The Digital Markets Act legislation

The Digital Markets Act legislation was proposed by the European Commission at the end of 2020 during December. It aims to tackle the monopolistic power of tech giants in Europe to make the market fairer for consumers.

Some key changes that the Digital Markets Act means to implement are uninstallable first-party apps, as well as the ability to sideload applications. The former is quite self-explanatory, but if you are uncertain what sideloading means, it's basically downloading applications outside the official app store for your device.

Craig Federighi’s (Apple’s) argument

As one can probably guess, the Digital Markets Act poses a huge problem for the way Apple wants to handle its software platforms. In an effort to protect and explain the company’s vision, Federighi laid out a few main points, arguing why he thinks sideloading is a bad idea.

Early in the presentation, we are shown the favorite pie chart that Apple likes to use in its own keynotes. The chart is based on one security study and shows a rough (very rough) view of the difference in the number of malware infection cases between iOS, Android, Windows, and “Other”. Of course, iOS is shown to be the best when it comes to malware protection.

Federighi claims that iPhones are more secure thanks to Apple’s human app review and single point of distribution approaches. Throughout his talk, he often used a house as an analogy and compared the iPhone to a “great home with a really great security system.”

Further in his talk, he equates the Digital Markets Act legislation as something that could compromise your own safety. “The safe house that you chose now has a fatal flaw in its security system, and burglars are really good at exploiting it,” the Apple executive says.

Federighi states that now there are more cybercriminals than ever waiting to breach the defenses of your personal device and access sensitive information. “Sideloading is a cybercriminal’s best friend, and requiring that on iPhone would be a gold rush for the malware industry,” he adds.

Now, there is also the argument that users should be the ones to decide whether they want to be able to sideload apps or not. However, Federighi had to say something about that as well.

If you want to watch the whole of Federighi’s speech or even all of the second day of Web Summit 2021, you can click on the video below.

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