The iPhone vs. Android debate has its fanatics on either side, with each one claiming superiority over the other. But what about Android vs. iOS security? Does either platform do better with mobile security than the other? The answer is … it depends. If you use the device as intended, and the device manufacturer is quick with security updates, the two sides are about equal.
Android vs. iOS Security Comparison
That said, the openness and decentralized nature of Android puts you at a higher risk of security breaches. In the meantime, iPhone’s closed ecosystem and its tight control over what you can do with your device may be a bother, but it helps from a security perspective. Updates are passed directly from the manufacturer, which is also the operating system developer, to the device. Apps can only be downloaded from the App Store. With Android, things are different.
Google produces the Android operating system, but outside of a single phone, it is not involved directly in the manufacture of devices that the Android OS runs. This poses an issue from a security perspective. Apple can get security updates to customers quickly because it is both the operating system developer and the manufacturer, but Android cannot.
Google releases the software patches, but it’s up to the manufacturers to get them to customers. Manufacturers need to tweak Android a bit in order to make it work because each device is different. This slows down the process a bit.
Google itself admitted that it has some work to do in order to make sure this is happening on a consistent and timely basis. We will say, though, that most major manufacturers are doing a good job on this; it is only a problem among the lesser-known and cheaper brands out there.
Rooting and Jailbreaking
Apple does not condone the intentional circumvention of its security protections, something that’s become more commonly known as “jailbreaking.” Jailbreaking became popular in the early days of the iPhone as a way for people to get the iPhone to work on their carrier of choice versus those that had exclusive agreements to carry the device. It also let you run apps outside of the App Store. Apple does try to fight the jailbreakers back, attempting to close these holes and relock jailbroken devices.
“Rooting” is the Android equivalent of a jailbreak. Both Google and device manufacturers strongly discourage rooting, and it does void the warranty of your device. However, it’s much easier to do on an Android device, and once a device is rooted, Google does not attempt to relock the device — although some apps and features may stop working.
In either case, you’re putting your device at risk equally by attempting either a jailbreak or a root. But with Android, you might find yourself in trouble even without a root.
There is no other way to install apps on an iPhone other than through the App Store. While Google does have an official app store called Google Play, you aren’t limited to just that app store and can download any app from just about anywhere. This is potentially risky, as some app stores may not take the precautions Google does with Google Play to keep bad apps out.
When it comes to individual apps, neither Android nor iPhone has an advantage over the other in terms of what they offer. We’ve spotted a few cool apps on either platform that we think are worth a look.
For iOS, Avatier MFA is a security app that protects your device using both your fingerprint and voice. 1Password is one of the best password database apps on the platform, and Signal Messenger is great for secure voice and text communication.
Over on Android, we especially like Avast Mobile Security for its wide range of security features, including antivirus scanning, and LastPass for its capabilities of not only securely storing passwords but files as well.
While we’ve given the iPhone the slight edge over Android in terms of security, one area where Google does do better in keeping its users safe from suspicious activity is something called “Safety Net.” This operates in the background and continuously scans for suspicious activity. It also prevents certain apps, like Android Pay, from working on rooted devices.
This prevents malware from being spread and keeps attackers using rooted devices from using them to hack into other services through the phone (like in the example of Android Pay, spoofing a bank account). Apple doesn’t have such a robust system.