Bad news for iPhone and iPad users who previously thought themselves safe from malware and similar threats: security researchers at Palo Alto Networks have discovered an iPhone virus dubbed Wirelurker, which might have already infected hundreds of thousands of phones or tablets. Wirelurker is the first serious malware threat to iOS devices.
So far the virus appears limited to iPhones in China, but it could spread to the rest of the world very easily. Most phones currently infected with Wirelurker probably caught it from a third-party app store called Maiyada, whose customers are primarily Chinese.
Still, Palo Alto Networks suggests that iPhone users, in order to protect themselves from the virus, avoid downloading any third-party apps, not just those from Maiyada, and also avoid using third-party USB chargers, which have the potential to spread malware.
Of course, where your phone, tablet or other electronic devices are concerned, it's generally a good idea to avoid all third-party accessories, not just software and not just for malware-avoidance reasons.
Back in 2005, shortly after cell phones had first evolved from “rare and expensive new technology” to “commonplace everyday appliances,” the Feds warned that cell phones' rechargeable batteries could be dangerous fire hazards, and one way to protect yourself was to avoid using third-party batteries or chargers, which might prove incompatible with the manufacturers' guidelines.
Since 2005, there have been plenty of incidents of cell phones catching fire (last August, an airplane in Tel Aviv even had to be evacuated after a passenger's iPhone battery caught fire) — and in almost all of those cases, it turned out that what actually caught on fire was not the phone itself, but a third-party battery or some other non-manufacturer-approved accessory.
Modern electronics, especially those powered by rechargeable batteries or operated by software, are one of the few areas of consumer life where brand loyalty actually makes good financial sense.