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Is iPhone More Secure Than Android

Is iPhone More Secure Than Android

Staying safe in a digital world can be difficult. It can be hard to understand how to avoid phishing scams, or if WhatsApp is a safer choice than Signal or Telegram. And it turns out the choice of phone you have can impact how safe you are, with Android and Apple handsets both being susceptible to hacking, if not to varying degrees.

That’s why we asked around the stratosphere to find out what leading security experts think, and what you should watch out for so you can keep your phone out of harm’s way.

Are iPhones more secure than Android phones?

Chris Hauk, consumer privacy champion at Pixel Privacy, told Trusted Reviews that Android phones are targeted more often than iPhones as there are more of them in the wild, making them a bigger target.

“Android handsets are usually targeted more than iPhones, due to their larger installation numbers, so targeting Android devices offers a larger attack surface,” Hauk says.

“iPhones are also not as susceptible to attacks as Android devices, as Apple controls both the devices and the operating system. Meanwhile, Android is adapted by numerous smartphone makers, which usually customize the mobile operating system for the devices they sell, introducing possible security flaws by installing their third-party software.”

That doesn’t mean that iPhones are immune to attacks or vulnerabilities. Recently Apple just patched up two significant security holes that could have allowed third-party apps to see your private Apple ID. In a similar vein, a Safari 15 bug was discovered that could disclose your recent browsing history from the app, showing that Apple is not invincible, even if it is less common to see it struggling with big security vulnerabilities.

Security advisor at F-Secure, Fennel Aurora, explained to Trusted Reviews how Android is more targeted, even though iPhone malware is more valuable, as it requires more complicated tricks to get into the iOS system.

“In general iOS and Mac users are more valuable targets and can be more profitable if the crime company is able to put in the effort to develop more complex malware,” Aurora notes.

“These targets are generally profitable either from the generally richer users paying up for ransomware, or by working for governments and corporations with deep pockets behaving criminally to target protesters, journalists, opposition leaders, union organizers, whistleblowers, and anyone else inconvenient to their continuing abuses of power.”

Aurora goes on to say that Phones bigger weakness is that, since the software is so homogeneous, one good attack could hack the whole system.

“Meanwhile, as Android gradually catches up to iOS in terms of security by design, the fragmentation of the Android ecosystem compared to one very homogeneous ecosystem for iOS can in some ways make it easier and more valuable to attack iOS – one good attack can give you access to every device, rather than needing to develop for each specific flavour of Android,” explained Aurora.

What sort of threats affect regular consumers more?

Principal security researcher at Kaspersky, David Emm, explained to Trusted Reviews how the goal of a lot of malware is to steal people’s personal information.

“Most malware, for whatever platform, relies on social engineering, i.e. tricking someone into doing something that jeopardises their security,” Emm remarked.

“Hence the number of phishing attacks designed to try and persuade people to click on links to fake sites hosting malware (this could be adware, a banking Trojan designed to steal their money, malicious crypto-currency miners or any other type of malware) or capturing personal information such as passwords.”

It’s important that you keep your passwords secure. Small preventative measures, such as using a password manager or installing a VPN will make it harder for hackers to get into your accounts. Also, make sure that you never click on a link that’s emailed to you by an unfamiliar contact and if you’re unsure of what to do, ask for advice.

Hank Schless, senior manager of security solutions at Lookout, also told Trusted Reviews that phishing and malicious malware are the biggest concerns to consumers, with Android being more vulnerable.

“Mobile phishing and malicious apps are two massive threats to the everyday consumer. Mobile phishing attacks can occur on any platform that has messaging functionality, which means we’re highly vulnerable on these devices if they aren’t protected with a mobile security solution,” Schless says.

“The risk of malicious apps tends to be higher on Android because it’s a more open operating system. It’s incredibly difficult to download an app that isn’t from the Apple App Store on an iOS device, which is one of the benefits of the company’s walled garden approach.

“Malicious mobile apps usually appear innocuous, but run malicious code in the background that can spy on the individual and everything they do on their device,” Schless went on to say.

Is one more secure than the other?

Paul Bischoff, privacy advocate at Comparitech, told Trusted Reviews that iPhones are inherently more secure as it’s harder to download dangerous apps, as any service that wants to sell on Apple’s platform has to be vetted by the App Store.

“iPhones are more secure by default. Disk encryption is enabled by default, apps from the App Store go through a stricter vetting process, and Apple doesn’t gather users’ personal details for advertising purposes,” Bischoff says.

Since it is very difficult to download apps on Apple that aren’t on the App Store, you’re less likely to download a malicious app. The control Apple has over its hardware and software makes it harder for hackers to enter, similar to how a burglar would struggle when faced with a locked door with a deadbolt. Android still has a locked door, but the lack of a deadbolt makes it easier for some attacks to slide through.

Schless went on to say that iPhones have a better handle on system updates, with one iOS update being rolled out to every user at once, while Android security patches are more staggered since each handset needs to be tested.

“The fundamental difference between iOS and Android is that only one device manufacturer has devices that run iOS, while there are dozens that build Android-enabled devices,” Schless explains.

“On iOS, security patches can be pushed to every single iPhone user at once. On the other hand, every device manufacturer that produces an Android device has to test updates before pushing it to mobile users.”

Schless said this is dangerous as users traditionally don’t take even basic measures to protect themselves on mobile.

“This can create a significant lag between when security issues are discovered and when users actually receive the updates to protect against them. Regardless of the operating system, everyone should protect their mobile devices with a security solution,” Schless told Trusted Reviews.

“We’re conditioned to run antivirus software on our PCs and laptops, so why would it be any different on mobile? Arguably, smartphones and tablets now have more access to sensitive data than computers do, so from a personal and enterprise security perspective, every mobile user should secure these devices.”

Reasons iPhone Is More Secure Than Android

Security isn’t the first thing most people think of when they start shopping for a smartphone. We care a lot more about apps, ease of use, price, design, and that used to be right. But now that most people have huge amounts of personal data on their phones, security is more important than ever.

When it comes to the security of your smartphone, which operating system you choose makes a big difference. The ways in which operating systems are designed and maintained goes a long way in determining how secure your phone will be, and the security offered by the leading smartphone options is very different.

If you care about having a secure phone and keeping your personal data personal, there’s only one smartphone choice: iPhone.

Market Share: A Big Target

Market share can be a major determiner of an operating system’s security. That’s because virus writers, hackers, and cybercriminals want to have the biggest impact that they can and the best way to do that is to attack a very widely used platform. That’s why Windows is the most-attacked operating system on the desktop.

On smartphones, Android has the largest market share worldwide; about 85% compared to iOS’s 15%. Because of that, Android is the #1 smartphone target for hackers and criminals.

Even if Android had the best security in the world (which it doesn’t), it would be virtually impossible for Google and its hardware partners to close every security hole, fight every virus, and stop every digital scam while still giving customers a device that’s useful. That’s just the nature of having a huge, widely used platform.

So, market share is a good thing to have, except when it comes to security. In that case, being smaller, and thus a smaller target is best.

Viruses and Malware: Android and Not Much Else

Given that Android is the biggest target for hackers, it should be no surprise that it has the most viruses, hacks, and malware attacking it. What may be a surprise is just how much more it has than other platforms.

According to one study, 97 percent of all malware attacking smartphones targets Android.

According to this study 0% of the malware they found targeted the iPhone (that’s probably due to rounding. Some malware targets the iPhone, but it’s likely less than 1%). The last 3% took aim at Nokia’s old, but widely used, Symbian platform. That’s just one study, of course, but the basic trend is that Android is overwhelmingly most targeted by virus writers.

Sandboxing: Not Just for Playtime

If you’re not a programmer this can be a complex one, but it’s very important. The way Apple and Google have designed their operating systems and the way they allow apps to run is very different and leads to very different security situations. These situations should absolutely be considered if you’re choosing between an iPhone or Android.

Apple uses a technique called sandboxing. This means, essentially, that every app runs in its own walled-off space (a “sandbox”) where it can do what it needs to, but can’t really interact with other apps or, beyond a certain threshold, with the operating system. This means that even if an app did have malicious code or a virus in it, that attack couldn’t get outside of the sandbox and do more damage.

Apps have more extensive ways to communicate with each other starting in iOS 8, but sandboxing is still enforced.

On the other hand, Google designed Android for maximum openness and flexibility. That has a lot of benefits to users and developers, but it also means that the platform is more open to attacks. Even the head of Google’s Android team admitted that Android is less secure, saying:

“We can not guarantee that Android is designed to be safe, the format was designed to give more freedom … If I had a company dedicated to malware, I should also be addressing my attacks on Android.” 

Are iPhones more secure than Android devices?

Apple has built a reputation for strong device security, but reputation alone can’t protect corporate data. While iOS and Android differ, mobile security comes down to management.

Android and iOS devices differ in a few ways, and security is one area where these differences affect organizations most.

The choice between iPhones and Android devices has long been an issue of debate among IT departments looking to ensure data security. To find the right security approach, IT should understand the unique advantages and drawbacks of each platform.

Apple has a reputation as the most secure option due to its focus on privacy, security and end-user experience. Although Google hasn’t always had the same reputation, the company has also implemented some strong security measures for Android. All modern Android and iOS devices support data encryption, as well as mobile device management (MDM) commands for enforcing passcodes and secure authentication.

Beyond each OS’ security features and reputation, how software such as MDM manages devices is vital to ensuring cybersecurity. MDM tools enable organizations to secure their mobile devices and data via policy implementation. Organizations can then control user access to corporate applications, enforce strong password requirements, enable device encryption and more. It’s not just a question of which platform is more secure; it’s a question of how each platform works with MDM tools to protect corporate data.

The growth of iPhone and Android in the enterprise

Apple builds iPhones from the ground up with privacy and security in mind. It has a built-in encryption system through Secure Enclave. This hardware-based security chip protects sensitive user data, even if the device’s main processor is compromised. Apple also tightly controls its App Store, limiting the availability of malicious apps that could compromise user data. Additionally, automated enrollment is available when organizations use MDM and Apple Business Manager. With this zero-touch enrollment approach, IT teams can easily send devices to end users, as they automatically provision into management and lock themselves into that status, even after a device reset.

3 factors that can shape a mobile security policy

IT professionals should consider device security for both Android and iOS devices when assessing the potential risk of data theft or leakage. Factors to keep in mind include device management, OS updates and malware.

1. Device management

With Apple Business Manager, IT administrators can enforce supervision specifically on corporate-only devices. This grants them higher-level management privileges, enabling more effective device control. Additionally, features such as User Enrollment and Managed Apple IDs offer enhanced separation between corporate and personal data on a device.

Android provides strong management functionality and offers more hardware options. This gives admins flexibility in selecting devices that suit their specific needs. Work profiles and fully managed mode for corporate-owned and BYOD use cases enable IT to separate work and personal data. The Android Enterprise Recommended program also gives IT a list of devices that Google has certified as meeting security, performance and manageability requirements for enterprise use.

2. OS updates

Apple typically rolls out iOS updates to all supported devices at the same time, ensuring that the latest security patches, bug fixes and new features are available to users. There are many MDM tools that provide access to OS updates within the management platform, enabling IT to push updates to devices centrally. This centralized approach simplifies the update process and helps maintain a consistent experience across iPhones in an organization.

With the introduction of Project Mainline in Android 10, the process of updating essential Android system components has become more streamlined and consistent. However, Android updates still pose challenges for admins. While the Android Enterprise Recommended list makes it easier to find devices with OS update commitments, there are instances where certain vendors might require additional maintenance packages or third-party tools to access upgrades over extended lifecycles.

3. Malware

When assessing mobile malware risk, it’s worth noting that Apple’s closed ecosystem can contribute to a more secure environment. Apple has strict control over app distribution, and hardware limitations can significantly reduce the risk of malware infection on iPhones.

Due to its open nature and broader range of devices, Android can be more susceptible to malware attacks. However, being open source makes it easier for security researchers to report issues to help patch vulnerabilities, and tools such as Google Play Protect offer additional protection against potentially harmful applications. Still, if IT teams don’t manage devices appropriately and allow installations from third-party app stores or unknown sources, higher security risks might be present on the Android platform.

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