Android and iOS are one of the most popular smartphone operating systems on the market today. Recently performed study which showed that while Apple’s iPhones continue to hold 27 percent of the market share, Android has over 70 percent of the smartphone market share. Both of these devices are effective in providing an easy to use platform but the question remains: Which is more secure?
Whether you have an iPhone, Android or Blackberry the mobile usage is on the rise. With this rise of mobile usage there is more concern for the security of your mobile device. It’s important to understand how secure you are using your device and what measures can be taken to protect it.
Mobile devices are vulnerable to malware, viruses, and other issues because they have operating systems. This means that regular users can download apps from the app store which makes them vulnerable to attacks from exploits or malware.
Related: 13 Pros of the iPhone Over Android
The security of your mobile devices has become a matter of serious concern, not just for big players like Google and Apple, but also for every individual. With this rising concern, the need for solutions to secure our mobile devices is inevitable.
The security of any operating system can be divided into two major areas: the operating system itself, and the applications it runs. The aim of any cybercriminal is to find vulnerabilities in either area. This gives them an opportunity to infect your smartphone or tablet with malware that could steal your data or infect other devices on your network.
Of course, the security of your mobile device is only as good as the precautions you take to protect it. Even so, it never hurts to know which operating system might be more secure than another.
Some argue that Android, which is an open-source operating system, is more secure than iOS, which in comparison is primarily controlled by Apple. They point to the fact that malware designed for Android almost always finds its way to the Play Store (formerly known as Android Market), while malware for iOS seem to stray from Apple’s App Store.
When we look at the big picture, both mobile operating systems share many similarities and features. They both have integrated web browsers, numerous apps that you can download, and access to online stores for app purchases.
As it pertains to malware, they even have similar risk levels. However, in some significant areas the two platforms are vastly different – so much so that one might be more secure than the other.
Let’s take a look at what each platform offers alongside their security benefits and drawbacks.
Apple has always built its hardware, software and services in-house, and that gives it a security advantage. The iPhone’s screen is made by Apple, for example, as are the chips used inside.
Android’s openness and freedom is its biggest strength, but it’s also a weakness if you’re concerned about security. The open source platform relies on the hardware manufacturer to keep it secure – there’s no back-end system like Apple has in-built into iOS.
Conversely, when using iOS devices you always run the latest version out of the box, and so there’s no chance the vulnerabilities associated with an older OS are going to be present.
Although both operating systems have their hands full with malware threats, iOS can be considered more secure than Android due to its closed ecosystem and robust architecture that patches any vulnerabilities quickly.
You might not be as well protected from the latest exploits as you would on iOS, but as long as your Android phone is up to date you’re probably safe from all but the most cutting-edge attacks.
If you haven’t heard of Stagefright, Android users should definitely take a few minutes to read up on this vulnerability. Zimperium, a security firm, recently announced that Stagefright is one of the largest Android threats ever discovered.
This particular exploit affects nearly all handsets running older versions of Android, and the only way to protect your device(s) at this point is to worry incessantly about all the information that could be stolen by an attacker if your device was infected with malicious software.
It’s currently unknown exactly how many users are still running outdated Android versions, but Google has promised to help track this and get more devices updated with their upcoming monthly security updates.
When people talk about mobile security they tend to focus on iPhones being the most secure platform. Android phones however, while representing the majority of devices globally, actually present a bigger target for malware creators due to the larger distribution and open, customizable nature of the OS. What many people fail to remember is that the security of your device also depends on the apps you authorize access to.
Security breach and threat level
So why is Android the target of so much malware? For one thing, it accounts for a whopping 70% of all shipments. That means its user base is big enough for attackers to profit from hits. In contrast, iOS accounts for only 27.5% of shipments on the market, and many users are more security-conscious than those using Android handsets.
Android does have protections against malware, and has them in place, but users are much more likely to download apps from other sources. And only a handful of malware apps are found each year.
Security threats on Android devices include spyware, adware, malware, phishing and spam, and viruses. Malware is software that is designed specifically to damage your device or steal information from you. Spyware and adware collect data about you and can track your activity, such as where you travel (down to GPS coordinates), what sites you visit, what apps you use, and what information you enter into forms.
They can also redirect your browser to unwanted sites or inject ads into websites you visit. Phishing scams are fake websites that appear legitimate, but are set up by cybercriminals to trick people into sharing valuable personal information like credit card data, bank accounts numbers, passport numbers etc.
How to stay safe on Android and iOS
To keep your device safe, you should only download apps from trusted sources. One way to do this is by getting apps directly from app stores: Apple’s App store for iOS and Google Play for Android. The official stores have security measures in place that help protect you from potentially malicious apps.
Digital privacy is in the news so much these days because it’s important, but also because you keep hearing about people getting hacked, private photos being shared – and other horrors. If you have an Android or iOS device, you know that there are some things you need to do just to stay safe on your phone: that may include changing your passwords, enabling two-factor authentication or updating your software.