Remember the days when hackers had to use Trojan Horses & DOS Attacks to invade people’s computers? Remember when the word “Hacker” mainly meant causing malicious harm to a person’s computer?
Well, those days are changing as technology advances every single day, now introducing mobile viruses, vulnerabilities & hacks. Basing of two of the latest & largest mobile operating systems, iOS & Android, one question remains, which of the two is most secure?
iOS, developed by Apple Inc, is the operating system found in only Apple devices such as the iPhone range. Based on similar security parameters & system architecture as MacOS; Apple prides themselves on their state of the art technology regarding performance & security.
Currently standing, it is the world’s second most used mobile operating system behind Android.
Android is an open-source operating system for mobiles created by Google. Found in most mobile manufacturer’s phones today, it is currently the world’s most used mobile operating system.
Android, due to its open-source technology, also prides itself on cutting edge technology as most mobile developers can create plugins & enhancements with the mobile development tools available online.
So, which is the better mobile operating system in terms of security? Well, there is no clear or easy answer.
Heads on the battle: Security Risk Level
For decades, even before the iPhone and its iOS existed, Apple has been known for being secure due to its proprietary closed development operating system. What this means is that Apple does not release their source code to any app or system developers so their devices cannot be altered, thus creating a more challenging time for hackers or exploiters to, you guessed it, exploit/hack these devices.
On the other hand, Android phones are the complete opposite. Google gives its mobile application developers the entire source code and APKs to develop applications and system tools for its operating system, thus creating a chance for exploiters/hackers to gain access to devices much easier.
Due to the popularity of Android devices and their massive 75% market share in the development segment, exploiters and hackers choose Android devices as their primary target, but this does not mean Apple devices are entirely off the hook.
Even though Apple devices are much harder to gain access to and much harder to exploit, it can still be controlled or hacked. Both Android & iOS users must be careful of what they download (especially third-party applications) as they can be both harmed with malware or viruses.
Users are generally advised to download from trusted sources such as: “Apple App Store” or “Google Play Store.”
At the end of the day, both mobile operating systems can be vulnerable to phishing attacks, malware & virus attacks.
Ahead of the Hackers: Software Updates
What is the best way to stay secure against hackers and their attacks?
Keeping your device entirely up to date to the absolute newest software version.
For years software development companies & mobile application developers have spent countless hours researching to create patches against any vulnerabilities that could be in the current software implementation.
Apple, known for its extensive updates, has several software updates a year at times, ensuring any vulnerabilities or new attacks are patched, so users are safe from any security threats.
Apple is known for its mobile app development costs; They make sure their updates are more of a big deal, ensuring users install them promptly or arrange a time to install it later on that day.
Google & its Android platform, on the other hand, is similar to its update structure. Android also receives several updates within a year to patch users from any security risks that may be present.
Since Android is open-source, updates are released more frequently as software application developers research into reported exploits & vulnerabilities.
The main difference with Android is that the updates depend on the Hardware manufacturer for your phone, the support for your current phone, and sometimes even on the carrier of choice; It’s also easier to ignore updates and push them back, unlike Apple’s update structure.
As a final note, both Apple & Google do allow users to activate “Automatic Updates” where users can toggle a switch enabling the devices to update at a convenient time when the phone is least used automatically.
Inner Strength: Hardware Assimilation
A new integration within mobile technology, very few manufacturers now integrate chipsets within their hardware to provide extra levels of security.
iOS devices in this department do not have a separate hardware component to provide higher levels of security. iOS uses software-based security only.
Android devices, however, have manufacturers that provide chipsets (hardware) to enhance security, thus making it much more secure. Android development & programming being open-source has allowed manufacturers such as “Samsung'” to create the “KNOX” security hardware.
Google manufactured phones such as the “Google Pixel 3” feature the “Titan M” chipset, which allows for additional security also.
Samsung describes KNOX as “A hardware chip up to isolate, encrypt, and secure your data – including confidential files, credit card transactions, passwords, and health data – so you can protect everything you care about.”
Google has released on their blog “Titan M makes Pixel 3 our most secure phone yet” and also stated further that “Titan M helps the bootloader of the phone ensuring the phone is using the valid & authentic version of android; Titan M allows for the phone to be disabled when the passcode is incorrectly entered more than three times and only unlocked when the user is verified as well as Boxstrong APIs being stored into Titan M along with their private keys.”
The final feature Titan M allows for is “prevention of tampering when Titan M detects firmware exploitations occurring, bad actors cannot bypass the lock screen.”
Android, clearly in this department, seems to be the more locked down and secure mobile operating system.
How to stay protected?
The question everyone is probably wondering. Staying protected is as easy as keeping up to date with the latest software updates and going further, not downloading anything from unknown sources. Both iOS & Android have similar if not the same methods to stay protected.
So, answer to the infamous question, which mobile device operating system is more secure & which is easier to hack? The most straightforward answer is BOTH.
Why both you asked? While Apple & its iOS succeeds in security, Android has a similar answer to combat security risks. The only difference is Apple focuses more on software-based security, whereas Android provides a mix of hardware & software for protection.
Both mobile operating systems have their vulnerabilities & both have had scrutiny against them. What to take from this is that keeping either mobile operating system up to date & taking appropriate measures to protect data integrity/security is imperative.
Remember, your security can be compromised if you don’t take appropriate security measures.
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