We’ve all heard the question before. Which is the most secure? Android or iOS? iPhone users will tell you Apple’s iron fist guarantees the security of its users, while Android fans will say using an Android phone is just like using a PC–as long as you use common sense and protect yourself, you’ll be fine.
But which is actually more secure? Well, the fine chaps at Symantec took the time to find out. (Quick disclaimer: Keep in mind that Symantec’s business is to sell security software, so don’t expect an “everything is peachy” review of either iOS or Android).
Symantec’s report starts with iOS, claiming the platform offers “strong protection against traditional malware.” This is not that hard to understand, since Apple manually checks and approves every app that appears on the App Store. This strategy has many downsides, but it also has some upsides. One of those upsides is how hard it is for a malware-infested app to find its way to iOS devices. However, Symantec said that once an iOS user steps out of Apple’s walled garden by jailbreaking their device, they’re as vulnerable to malware as PC or Android users.
Android, on the other hand, is more like a PC or the open web. Users have the freedom to install whatever they want, but they must be careful not to download an infected application. Symantec says this is the reason we’re seeing an “increasing volume of Android-specific malware.”
The bad news doesn’t stop there for our favorite mobile OS. Symantec concludes that iOS is also better at “resisting malware attacks, resource abuse/service attacks, data loss and data integrity attacks.” Android only ties with iOS on their abilities to resist web-based attacks. However, Android does a little better in regards to specific security features. They best iOS ability to isolate processes, but failing to beat iOS on “access control, application provenance and encryption.” Ouch.
Interestingly, researchers have found many more vulnerabilities on iOS than Android. Roughly 200 have been found on iOS, compared to only 18 found on Android. Only 4 of those 18 remain unpatched by Google. Google is also faster than Apple when it comes to patching a vulnerability, averaging 8 days to Apple’s 12 days.
At the end of the report, Symantec concludes that, even though iOS and Android both have their weaknesses, the mobile platforms are still much more secure than their PC counterparts. In other words, if you already use your PC with security in mind, then you most likely won’t have an issue with either Android or iOS. What do you guys think? Is iOS really that much better in security than Android? Or does Android’s ability to install anti-virus makes it more secure?