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iPhone Sideloading Could Increase Crypto Phishing Attacks, Experts Warn

Trent Alan
Last updated: | 1 min read
iPhone sideloading
Experts predict a rise in crypto phishing scams if Apple enables iPhone sideloading in the EU. Image by weerapat1003, Adobe Stock.

According to a recent report by Computer World, Apple is planning to allow iPhone users in the EU to install apps from outside the official App Store to comply with the region’s new Digital Markets Act. This potential change has raised concerns among cybersecurity experts about an increase in phishing attacks targeting crypto users.

Security Firms Sound Alarm on Phishing Attack Risks

While Apple has not officially confirmed the policy change, multiple reports have indicated since 2022 that the company is preparing for it. Cybersecurity firms warn this could expose iPhone users to greater risks, however.

In a recent report, blockchain security firm SlowMist explained that Android users in China have already suffered major financial losses from phishing attacks linked to fake apps installed outside the Google Play Store. They caution that iPhone sideloading could lead to similar “phishing attacks, asset theft, account password theft, and other risks” targeting crypto investors.

Experts Advise Caution With Sideloaded Apps

David Schwed, COO of blockchain security company Halborn, said in an interview that sideloaded apps may contain malicious code disguised as legitimate software. He explained that the iOS protections like sandboxing “might not fully mitigate the risks posed by skillfully crafted, deceptive applications designed to exploit user trust.”

In an October 2021 whitepaper, even Apple acknowledged that sideloaded apps make it easier for cybercriminals to distribute malware more widely. The company argued that attackers could trick users into sideloading by making apps appear to come from the App Store.

To protect themselves from phishing attempts, experts advise crypto users to avoid unknown links, watch for phishing URLs, and double-check before entering passwords or authorizing transactions. Opting for apps from official sources like Apple’s App Store and Google Play Store reduces the chance of downloading harmful software.

While iPhone sideloading may become mandatory in the EU, whether Apple will expand the policy globally is unclear. For now, crypto investors would be wise to exercise caution if given the option to install apps outside the App Store. The convenience may come with increased phishing risks.