Security Firm: iOS, Android Smartphones Face Similar Levels of Risk

Source: Thinkstock

Is an iPhone (NASDAQ:AAPL) safer than an Android (NASDAQ:GOOG)(NASDAQ:GOOGL) phone? One security firm says users are at about equal risk if they use either smartphone operating system.

The iOS and Android platforms both have their advocates that say their chosen platform is better, faster or more secure than the other. When it comes to security, a new report shows that neither Android nor iOS is significantly safer than the other. The report only looked at the two platforms, which make up about 94 percent of the American smartphone marketshare.

Mobile security firm Marble Security wrote the report. Its research found that iOS and Android smartphones face similar levels of risk, although Apple’s App Store does a slightly better job of detecting malicious apps than Android’s Google Play. This difference was not enough to say that iOS is safer than Android — just that the App Store’s verification process is a little better at its job. The catch is that much of Apple’s security relies on that system, which is not 100 percent accurate.

Marble Security Founder and CTO David Jevans said in a press release that Apple’s operating system is not any better than Android’s operating system. His company got through Apple’s security in its testing.

“We broke it down in our labs against 14 leading attack vectors for mobile devices, and aside from their app distribution control, iOS and Android are equally at risk to the mobile security threatscape facing the enterprise,” Jevans said. “The take away for network security managers is you cannot take iOS device security on faith and allow those users unfettered access to corporate resources.”

Malware and hacking have risen as a concern as phones have gotten smarter. As the news of phone hackings have spread, some have wondered how safe their smartphones really are. After all, these devices often contain information like emails and other potentially sensitive data. Some companies, like BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY), have built their platforms to be more secure, but few are popular in the way that iOS and Android are right now.

Security on both platforms goes down when smartphones are subjected to a “jailbreak,” a type of modification some users implement to remove restrictions manufacturers put on smartphones to limit user options of what they can do with their own smartphone. Users tend to jailbreak their devices for a variety of reasons, including so that they can access a wider variety of software or use their phone internationally on a cheaper carrier. However, the jailbreak means removing some features that keep a user’s smartphone safer from security threats. IPhones are more typically modified this way due to the more restrictive nature of the iOS platform.

Other threats to security for iOS and Android devices include public or unknown hot spots. The security on these is not always up to par, so be careful when a smartphone or tablet is connected to a public connection. In short, any user that has a smartphone should know that regardless of if it’s an iOS or Android device, security risks exist.

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