You probably have heard that there have been quite a few ad blocking apps that have come out within the past couple years for both Android and iOS devices. In terms of iOS devices, ad blockers have become a huge deal since only Android had the abilities to install the ad blockers on their devices, that was until iOS 9.
Being able to use an ad blocker is a huge upgrade and positive move for Apple in terms of features and changes to iOS 9, especially since it is a legitimate way to block ads. While you would think this is a great idea to begin to embrace the ad blocking technology and apps out there, Apple being in a rush to get an ad blocker out there has actually led to some security concerns, which has now led to ad blockers being removed from the App Store.
There are some security concerns with the ad blockers, and Apple is trying to keep users from being in the middle of a man-in-the-middle attack. In order to try to keep users out of the man-in-the-middle attacks, Apple was removing multiple ad blockers, also known as content blockers, from the iTunes Store. The ad blockers that were the focus of removal included those that had to install root certificates in order to function and operate properly. There are quite a few of the ad blockers out there for iOS that require the installation of these root certificates, and because of the malware attack in which a lot of roots were being exploited, Apple is not taking chances.
If you do not know what a root certificate is, it basically allows the developers of the app to access your encrypted information and traffic. Most of the time developers are not using this ability to look at encrypted traffic for any bad or illegal purposes, but the root certificate installations are a good way to become vulnerable to the man-in-the-middle attacks, and this is a big issue. In terms of the ad blocking apps, the developers use the ability to access your encrypted traffic to just remove the ads before it is sent back to you.
Apple released a statement on the issue saying that the company is completely committed to protecting customers and protecting the privacy of their customers, as well as security. Apple said that they have indeed removed some apps that were on the App Store and had needed the installation of root certificates in order to operate properly, and that this root certificate installation puts customers at risk because it monitors the network data from the users. Being able to monitor this networkdata could be used to compromise the TLS and SSL security solutions on the device. Apple said that they are working with the developers of these ad blockers in order to get their apps back on the App Store quickly by changing how the ad blockers work and removing the need to install these root certificates to ensure that customers are safe and secure and to ensure no man-in-the-middle attacks can occur by using these types of ad blockers.
Some of the apps like Been Choice were a target of the Apple removal, so if you have one of these ad blocking apps installed on your device, you might want to think about taking the app off of your device and removing the app all together. You can take the ad blocker app off your device now, and then once it reappears within a couple weeks with the help of Apple helping the developers change how the ad blocking apps work, you can always reinstall the ad blocking app. There should be patches coming out for all of these ad blocker apps that have been removed from the Apple App Store, but it is not known when these patches will be coming out since Apple is working with all of the developers of these apps.
By removing the ad blocking app from your device, you are cutting down the risk associated with the root certification exploits that can happen as a result of these types of apps, and this means that you are reducing the risk of becoming attacked since you are cutting off the access to the secure data that could end up enabling a man-in-the-middle attack.
The good thing about the root certification installation ad blocking apps is that they are more comprehensive in terms of protecting apps outside of Safari, but it does lead to a higher chance information could be intercepted on the content blocking servers. So it will take a while to find a way to get that comprehensive ad blocking ability without making the devices and system vulnerable to these types of attacks.