Android vs iOS Security - Which One is More Secure?Updated: January 09, 2020
Wondering which does best between Android vs iOS in terms of security?
With the increase in the usage of mobile phones, there's no wonder cybercriminals are developing new ways to monetize their malicious acts by exploiting devices' vulnerabilities.
And because we use our phones for various purposes, from connecting to social media and checking our emails to banking and online shopping, mobile security should be one of our main concerns.
Before you go purchase a new phone, you might first want to do research on Android vs iOS in terms of security so you make the best decision for yourself.
Even though both operating system providers do their best to improve security and privacy for their products, there are still some differences between Android vs iOS security.
Still, there's no simple answer to which mobile operating system is more secure - Android or iOS.
To get a better idea of both OS security issues, vulnerabilities, and features, we put together this guide comparing the two.
So, if online safety is your concern, let's take a look over
Overall, Apple's iOS operating system is considered to be the most secure between the two. That's because iOS is a closed system. Meaning that the source code is not available to app developers and those owning an iOS device are not able to modify or alter the code themselves. Because of this, it's way more difficult for hackers to find vulnerabilities to exploit on Apple devices.
When it comes to Android devices, there's another story. Android is open-source code. This means that anyone can modify and play with its code. And even the slightest wrong alteration to the code can produce vulnerabilities in the system. Not to mention that manufacturers can also modify the code and create vulnerabilities in the system. If this happens, hackers will definitely find and exploit them.
Android devices are more prone to being targeted by hackers. Firstly because of the open-source code and, secondly, because of their popularity. Lots of manufacturers are using the Android operating system so this gives cybercriminals way more devices to target than iOS-powered devices.
But this doesn't conclude if which is most secure between Android vs iOS. Even though iOS might be considered to be more secure, it doesn't mean iOS devices can't be hacked.
No matter what operating system you're using, you should still be aware that cybercriminals have methods to infect one's device with viruses and other types of malware, especially through third-party apps. Moreover, there are other techniques hackers use, know as social engineering, in which they trick you into giving the personal information or accounts details. In these cases, the operating system you're using becomes irrelevant. Both Android and iOS are vulnerable to such cyber attacks.
Most of the apps you install on your smartphone requests some sort of information about you. Some apps even request access to your device's location, camera, or microphone.
Is there a difference in the level of information Android vs iOS apps request from users?
Oddly enough, researches from Symantec show, after analyzing both Android and iOS versions of the apps, that some Android apps request more permission than their iOS variation. For example, seven Android apps required access to SMS messages while their iOS version didn't. This makes you wonder. Why the same app can run on iOS without this permission but can't do it on Android devices?
Other interesting findings were that 89% of Android apps request risky permission, while the number is only 39% on iOS devices. Also, 45% of Android apps request tracking location comparing to 25% for iOS.
In most cases, apps have good reasons to request such permissions from users so they can function properly. But you should always pay attention to what the requests are and ask yourself if it makes sense for the app to get access to that specific data. This is a best practice regarding the operating system you use, be it Android or iOS.
On the Android's Play Store you have way more apps to choose from than on the iOS' App Store. While this is good news in some ways, it also creates problems when it comes to Android security.
Although Android makes significant changes in an effort to prevent apps containing malware of hitting its Market place, there are still highly ranked apps with numerous downloads that have been found to contain malware. The situation is even worse when you install apps from somewhere other than the Android official store.
One example of a malicious Android app that made a shocking impression in the past is Loapi. Its developers managed to implement various attacking techniques targeting devices such as Trojans that can subscribe the users to paid services, make money from showing advertisements, sending messages to any number, using the device's computing power to mine cryptocurrencies, or perform actions on the internet on behalf of the user. Loapi mainly hides behind the mask of antivirus solutions or adult content apps.
This information should make you proceed with more caution the next time you'll be downloading an app on your smartphone, even if it's an app that promises to keep your device secure, such as an antivirus app.
On the other hand, the iOS App Store offers a thinner selection of apps, but they are drastically inspected before they make their way on the marker. This reduces the chances of an app being infected with malware, keeping the users in a more safer place.
We've seen how Android's open marketplace can pose a vulnerability and raise security issues. But the wider range of apps also has its silver lightning.
Because there are so many apps you can choose from, it means there are also lots of security apps available. If you chose the right tools, you can bring Android to the same level of security as iOS.
Constant updates are what makes it possible for operating systems to remain secure.
Because Android has so many devices that it has to serve and more manufacturers into play, it is nearly impossible to update all of them at once to the same level of security.
With Apple, on the other hand, when a new iOS update is released, it is a big event. The update reaches each iOS owner because it is easier for them to distribute the upgrade to all users.
Because Apple devices and the iOS operating system come as a pack, they've got more control over the system. Even if the closed system gives users fewer choices in terms of features, it makes security vulnerabilities less frequent and difficult to find by hackers.
Android, on the other hand, can be installed on various devices and, depending on the manufacturer, this is not always a good thing. Some manufacturers leave security vulnerabilities and hackers will find and exploit them.
The built-in security features on iOS and Android are similar. For example, they both use sandboxes to put a limitation on the harm malware can do to the devices.
Another important security feature that's found both on Android and iOS is the support of VPN encryption. VPNs are on the list of must-have tools for improved online security and privacy.
DrSoft provides a highly secure VPN software to enhance your online security.
From what we've seen so far, iOS looks to be, overall, more secure than Android.
But, in reality, there's no firm answer to which is more secure between iOS and Android.
Android has constantly modified its architecture to improve security. This made it more difficult for cybercriminals to install malware on mobile devices. And even if they manage to install malware on someone's mobile, the developments in Android made it harder to monetize it.
Besides, there are lots of security apps you can find on the Android's Play Store that will help you make Android as secure as iOS, or take it even further.
In the end, it all comes down to your preferences, but it's important to know the above facts before deciding what operating system is right for you.
Are you ok with the limitations of Apple when it comes to customization? Then you can turn to an iOS device knowing it is less prone to get infected with malware.
Do you feel more comfortable with the openness of Android? Then go with an Android device and make sure you set up the right apps to enhance your security at a maximum.
If you want to find out more about how to secure your smartphone, you will enjoy the following articles: