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Android vs iPhone: Who’s Really the Most Secure?

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There are two kinds of people in the world: Android people and iPhone people. Both are insistent that their device is truly superior one and neither is willing to let up. Everyone has that moment you’re your hanging out with a group of people and you’re looking around and you realize that you’re the only droid in the room.

It may not happen every day, but the conversation will inevitably turn and someone will say, “I can’t believe you’re using an Android, iPhones are so much cooler,” or vice versa. This petty, ongoing game among friends becomes more complicated when brought to the enterprise. It’s no longer about what’s cool or trendy or even what you like better; it’s about security and which operating system is going to stand against malware.

Historically, iOS has been the clear winner in enterprise mobility and currently dominates corporate mobile strategy because it’s fundamentally more secure than Android. This is because Android took the open source route when it comes to development, meaning anyone can put any app they develop in the Android app stores no matter how riddled it is with malware. With iOS, each app has to be approved by Apple making it almost (but not completely) impossible to download a bad app.

“iOS and Android took two distinctly approaches to their application stores. While Android began by cultivating an open ecosystem that would largely be policed by the Android community, Apple’s App Store was tightly controlled with an upfront review process and strict terms of service that made it difficult for malware developers to get their wares into the App Store.”

According to the 2015 Mobile Threat Report by Pulse Secure, there’s much more to the story than open source vs closed. For one, malware developers target Android because it dominates a whopping 85 percent of the smartphone market. It may not seem that way because in the U.S., iPhones take more than half of the market, but in Asia, people almost exclusively carry Androids.

It could be argued that malware developers target Android because it’s more successful. They just don’t want to go through all the trouble to infect iOS devices; it’s just not worth the headache. By targeting Android, “malware developers are able to get their wares on the largest amount of devices by focusing on the platform that most consumers choose to carry.

“Just as historical data of the PC market illustrates that Microsoft Windows’ dominance of the PC market led to the focus of malware developers, so too does Android’s dominance in attracting the new battle front in data theft in an increasingly mobile-centric consumer market.”

Google is well aware of this and aren’t letting malware developers get away. “Google has gone to great lengths by acquiring several different technologies and building a background process for applications. As it currently stands, the Google Play Store is almost entirely free of malicious applications.”

According to Forbes, only 0.1 percent of apps on the Play Store carry malicious code. The majority of malware being developed and distributed is being shopped through unregulated third party app stores in the Middle East and Asia.  Just by making the choice to shop for apps in the official Google Play Store instead of a third party store almost guarantees that you won’t accidentally download malware from an Android app.

This is good news for the enterprise because it makes the inevitable BYOD transition much less daunting. At least some of your employees will be using Androids and as long as you have a solid EMM solution and educate your employees on malware, there is no reason why their Android devices will be security risks. At this point, security is no longer a deciding factor between Android and iPhone; it’s really what the user prefers to use. You can kick your feet up and let them fight over which device they think is “cooler” with confidence because it won’t really matter to you; they’re both secure.

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