Written by Nick Heer.

Microsoft Says That It Is Bringing Defender, Its Security and Antivirus Software, to iOS and Android

Jordan Novet, CNBC:

Microsoft will soon offer its Defender antivirus software for phones and other devices running Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS mobile operating systems, the company announced Thursday.


Apple and Google have sought to police their app stores from instances of malware. That hasn’t stopped Microsoft from jumping in.

“They’re pretty safe, but pretty safe is not the same as safe,” Rob Lefferts, a Microsoft corporate vice president, said in an interview at company headquarters in Redmond, Washington, last week. “Malware does happen on those platforms.”

The closest thing to malware on iOS is probably targeted attacks, primarily for spying, that rely on unreported vulnerabilities. It is unclear how Microsoft’s antivirus software will scan an iPhone’s apps at all, given the sandboxing restrictions on the platform, let alone find ones that use novel ways of surreptitiously scraping users’ data.

Microsoft already offers the Intune software that IT administrators can use to manage employees’ PCs, smartphones and tablets. The Defender software coming to Android and iOS is about security, rather than management. It’s designed to prevent people from visiting online destinations that Microsoft deems unsafe, Lefferts said.

This makes it sound like Microsoft Defender for iOS will, ultimately, be a Safari content blocker, or perhaps a VPN. Microsoft says that more details will be revealed at next week’s RSA Conference. I question whether it will meaningfully address how a sandboxed antivirus scanner is supposed to work platform-wide.

Update: I forgot about that ring of click fraud apps that ran invisible ads.