Perhaps unsurprisingly, Executive Chairman of Google Eric Schmidt has said Android is more secure than iOS. He made the claim at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, which apparently elicited laughs from the audience.
Why does Schmidt think Android is more secure than iOS? He didn’t give a direct answer. He pointed out it has over a billion users, that Android will be around for a long time and has a huge amount of real-world security testing.
But is it really more secure? The Google Play Store, as we saw with the stalled launch of BlackBerry Messenger, has lots of misleading or unofficial apps designed to take advantage of unwary users. While there is plenty of rubbish on the App Store too, Apple’s more rigorous system for allowing apps
on their store means it’s more or less impossible for malware to get in.
Security holes were found in iOS 7 when it was launched, although Apple has an advantage in that it can roll out fixes to all devices without relying on mobile network carriers.
Schmidt’s point about Android’s user base is surprising. On desktop PCs, you find much more Windows viruses and attacks simply because it has a bigger user base. From a malicious point of view, if you want to cause disruption to the most people, you would target the most popular platform.
Our Lead Mobile Expert James Thornton says,
‘there are far more threats for Android devices than a closed platform like iOS. That’s not to say the platform itself is more or less secure, it’s just that there’s far more malware written for Android (much like Windows vs OS X). If users are careful and wise though, they can minimize this threat.’
The fraction of Android apps that are able to attempt to evade Android’s security is tiny on devices that use Google Play Services. Most malware on Android comes from apps downloaded outside of Google Play, and side-loaded onto devices.
Side-loading on Android, like jailbreaking iOS is altogether riskier than using the official stores, but that it’s easier on Android means more users are likely to try.