Authored by a Symantec employee
They’re both selling by the millions, with no sign of slowing down, but there are big differences between the iOS and Android mobile platforms – not least in the array of security threats they face, and the ways in which they attempt to mitigate them. You’re never totally secure when using a mobile device on either platform, but should the security conscious be choosing one over the other?
The Threat Level
If we’re talking purely about the level of threat that exists on the two platforms, it would seem iPhone and iPad users have the better side of the deal. Studies have found that a far higher percentage of mobile malware targets Android than iOS, the software than runs Apple’s devices. That’s down both to Android’s huge global popularity and its open approach. Plus, Apple tightly controls which apps are available on its App Store, vetting all apps to avoid allowing malware through.
But the figures alone don’t tell the story. After all, it only takes one piece of perfectly formed iOS malware to do as much damage as thousands of copycat Android threats. And both platforms are equally at risk from social engineering, where hackers use more personal methods to target your logins and data.
Many threats to Android could be largely eliminated if all users upgraded their handsets to the latest version of the OS. The fragmentation of Android devices across old versions plays into the hands of malware creators, so it’s vital to keep your own devices up to date.
Apple has no similar problem, as each release of iOS quickly filters through to users. Indeed, iOS updates are big events that prompt mass upgrades, and that means significant security scares are rare enough to be big news when they occur. There are of course downsides to Apple’s tight grip over everything that occurs on its platform, but there’s no doubt it makes for a more secure environment for casual users.
By contrast, the security of Android often depends on the hardware it’s running on. Some manufacturers are better than others at making sure all Android’s built-in security features work correctly, for example. Samsung’s KNOX 2.0 platform, for instance, provides a more secure booting process, making sure unauthorised software isn’t loaded when a smartphone switches on.
Staying Safe on Android
There’s no doubt Android is a bit more of a Wild West than iOS, but, with the right precautions, it can still be a safe platform. If you must install apps from anywhere and everywhere on an Android phone, at least do everything you can to ensure they’re safe before you let them loose on your contacts, messages and social media accounts. Install a scanning app such as Norton Mobile Security, and use it wisely on newdownloads to prevent any Trojan horses from trotting innocently through the gates.
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