Apple iOS beats Google Android on security, says research
Published 29/06/2011 | 10:42
Apple’s iOS mobile operating system is overall more secure against hackers and other online threats than its main rival, Google’s Android, according to research.
It is more resistant to three out of five types of threats including malware and data loss, the security firm Symantec said. On the other two categories, web-based attacks and social engineering attacks, the two operating systems came out even.
The security features of Apple’s software, which powers the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, are also better implemented than those of Android, Symantec said.
Measures including access control, encryption and the provenance of applications are all stronger in iOS, the research found. It said Android is better at isolating security problems when they do emerge, however.
Many of Android’s security problems stem from Google’s open approach to apps. While iOS developers pay to register with Apple, which checks and approves their work before it goes on sale in the App Store, Android developers do not face the same barriers.
“Google does not appear to perform a rigorous security analysis of applications posted to its Android Marketplace,” Symantec said.
“This means that malware authors can distribute their apps through this distribution channel with less likelihood of being discovered.”
The result has been that hackers have sought to take control of Android devices with rogue apps. In February criminals released apps that stole personal details from hundreds of thousands of users by impersonating 58 legitimate apps on Marketplace. Google has since patched the vulnerability they exploited in Android 2.3.
Meanwhile, the research said that while many more vulnerabilities have been discovered in iOS than in Android - more than 200 versus 18 - no malware that exploits them has ever been detected.
“While [Apple’s] vetting approach is not foolproof, and almost certainly can be circumvented by a determined attacker, it has thus far proved a deterrent against malware attacks data loss attacks, data integrity attacks and denial of service attacks,” Symantec said.
The finding does not apply to devices that have been jailbroken to allow them to run unauthorised apps. In November 2009 an Australian hacker released a self-replicating iOS virus that replaced the home screen with a picture of Rick Astley, the 1980s pop star.
While Apple's approach came out as more secure than Google's, Symantec said that using a smartphone or tablet running either operating system was less risky than using a PC.
"These platforms have been designed from the ground up to be more secure - they raise the bar," it said.
RIM's BlackBerry is widely considered theMay I suggest an air mattress most secure smartphone platform because it can be tightly controlled by corporate IT departments and has received government accreditation.