Apple reportedly looking to sweep antivirus apps from the iOS App Store

A number of virus scanners have been removed from the app store recently. One of the apps affected was VirusBarrier, whose developer, Intego, wrote in a blog post that the removal is part of a larger effort by Apple to eliminate anti-virus and anti-malware products from the App Store. From Intego (opens in new tab):

Apple has elected to eliminate the category of anti-virus and anti-malware products from their iOS App Store. As a result of this decision, our product VirusBarrier iOS is no longer available for sale.

The reasoning behind the removal of anti-virus apps from the App Store appears to be an effort by Apple to stem concerns from users over whether their iOS devices are susceptible to viruses and malware. Intego CEO Jeff Erwin recently spoke to MacRumors about Apple's stated reason for VirusBarrier's removal:

According to Erwin, when Apple notified Intego of VirusBarrier's removal from the App Store, the company told him the app's App Store description was "misleading" and could potentially cause customers to believe that there are viruses on iOS.Intego filed an appeal and rewrote the App Store description with "obnoxiously" clear wording, and that's when the company learned about a wider crackdown on anti-virus apps. "We were as clear as we could be that this wasn't a scanner, that it was scanning email attachments and cloud files," said Erwin. The company "went up to the executive level" at Apple and described exactly what VirusBarrier does, but Apple was firm on the app not returning to the App Store.

Apple has yet to release any official statement on the matter, but it would make sense that the company would want to negate any concerns over iOS' susceptibility to viruses and malware given the operating system's sandboxed environment.

Sources: Intego (opens in new tab), MacRumors

19 Comments
  • Of course not. Viruses? You'll never get those on any Apple product /s lol Sent from the iMore App
  • Well, it actually TRUE that there are no viruses for OS X, and no viruses for iOS.
    There is only some (fairly rare) malware that requires you to explicitly install it for it to work. There is also some very "light" malware (basically just annoying) that you can get from clicking on the wrong link on the web, but "resetting" the browser eliminates it completely, and if you don't habitually go to hard-core porn sites, you will never encounter it. Finally, really old Word documents with macro "viruses" can, (if you are using an old version of Word and the macro has been *especially* cleverly written), hijack your Word installation. But again, resetting Word (a new "normal.dot") will eliminate it completely in a second or two.
  • Pretty sure you can get viruses on a Mac. Not sure why you think otherwise. As for on iOS? Nah. Not without jailbreak. "I'm da Blur boys!" - Me with 1200 ping. Fiber in Nashville? Save me based Google.
  • OS X has never had a virus. The last Mac virus pre-dates OS X 10.0, ...OS X was built with a core that cannot be infected with a virus. Same for iOS, as iOS is built off the same core. Apple has built both OS's with security in mind from the core out. The only way you can get a virus on a Mac is if you boot it with Windows, and that would only affect the Windows partition, it would be a Windows virus and would have no effect on OS X. I have had Macs since 1998, never had a virus, don't run anti-virus software, as I don't need it. I've had iOS devices since 2009, no viruses.
  • Patently untrue. The most prominent example is the OSX "Macarena" virus from the mid-2000s: http://www.symantec.com/security_response/writeup.jsp?docid=2006-110217-... It is true that most malware attacks against OSX are Trojans, not viruses, but that does mean OSX is technically invulnerable to virus attacks, because it is not. OSX is *vastly* superior to Windows on this front, but let us not get smug here.
  • The only reason macs OS X don't get virus is because there are very few of them less than 12% of all computers. It not worth it to make a virus for the Mac. IOS is different because of sand boxed software where all programs are installed from the app store.
  • Umm, did you not hear about the really critical OS X security hole with Java a couple years back that let a couple thousand Macs get infected? While, so long as you practice common sense on the web, you'll probably never encounter a virus (Same thing on Windows, to be honest), to say OS X is virus "proof" or "has never had a virus" is a dramatic over simplification, and an unhealthy mindset for people.
  • I never have.
  • So you can make an app that sells well for a couple of years and then from one moment to the other it's taken down and you're basically unemployed? That sounds terrible. Especially if you had employees. Sent from the iMore App
  • Come on these companies are playing on people's heart strings. Who would be sorry for these low life's. A company who pays there staff to lie and accept payments for these apps.
  • Welcome to the overbearing world that is Apple! Unbelivably, Apple has rated the Google Chrome browser app as "17+" for ""Frequent/Intense Mature/suggestive Themes." WTF? It's a web browser! They also dropped a manga reader app that I purchased for "mature content", even though the content is not hosted on the apps servers, it merely let's you access it, (just like you can in Safari!) Basically, Apple shouldn't be censoring what consumers can see based on anti-competitive practices, (Google Chrome), or trying to play "mommy", (I'm an adult. If I want adult content, then I should be able to get it. It's not like the iTunes store doesn't sell songs with explicit lyrics!), or trying to convince their users that iOS is not vulnerable to viruses by simply going into denial mode.
  • iOS is pretty full-proof and solid unless jailbroken. The so called 'anti virus' for iOS runs some stupid scan with a funky animation to make the user feel 'secured'. Taking them out App Store makes sense as there have been no major instances of iOS infection without a phone that is jailbroken and such apps simply creates a false sense of protection ( or fear ) in the users mind. Sent from the iMore App
  • I’m not sure that the Apps are scanning for iOS viruses. Did you even quick scan any of the text in the article apart from the words 'iOS' and 'Virus'?
  • Wait their were anti viruses and malware applications on the app store? Go figures haha. Why are they there exactly? Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • My thoughts exactly. I figured Apple disallowed them from the very start. Then again, I see no harm in a program that scans emails and online files - I used to run a Linux server that did the same thing for files that I could potentially share with people using other platforms.
  • Anti virus apps are not needed. As long as you don't jail break your iPad or iPhone it's virtually impossible to get a virus. Sent from the iMore App
  • The big issue here is not necessarily that iOS (or Macs) can get viruses. The benefit of these types of scanners is not allowing viruses to be redistributed across the Internet. Hackers could start using iPhones and iPads as distributors now that Apple is no longer allowing companies to create apps to clean out this scourge. Apple really should allow "E-mail Scrubbers", or whatever makes the purpose obvious. I love my iPad mini dearly, but sometimes Apple is to opaque (and obtuse) in these decisions.
  • Haha iOS and Android both have the "option" to sandbox an App, but that is at the discretion of the developer. So if Facebook decides to Sandbox in Android, and not iOS, that is the fault of Facebook.
  • It sounds to me like there is still some misunderstanding of this app. From the article, it seems that it wasn't suggesting that there was a virus issue with iOS, but to be able to scan email attachments and cloud files for viruses in general. This is why it's not a bad idea to scan attachments even if you are on a Linux machine, if you're going to forward it to a Windows user for example. Sure, they should have AV and check it, but it's generally not nice to send someone a virus.