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Android vs iOS: Which Platform is More Secure in 2021

By Nitin Agarwal
February 1, 2018 7. min read
Last update on: April 27, 2021

While the Android vs iOS war is the one that continues to break the internet, the ultimate deal-breaking element for both the app users and the brands boils down to Mobile App Security.

How secure a mobile app is what determines its future in the present world where users are conscious of increasing data breach cases. But, is it something completely dependant on the quality assurance techniques that developers invest in?

Well, the answer is no.

Irrespective of how long it took to develop a mobile app or what methodology you followed in development, the ultimate result differs with various factors including, the operating system you choose. 

Because of this, many developers are asking the question, “Android vs iOS: Who wins the title of higher security in 2021-22?”

When we talk about iOS vs Android security, the unprecedented winner has always been iOS, with its stringent security guidelines. But with Android Q, Google gave out an array of hope in 2021, that hinted towards it being on the verge of becoming a brand one can trust with their devices and personal information.

{Read: How much does Android app development cost?}

Will 2021-22 be the year when Google’s Android will emerge out as the secure one out of Android and iOS ecosystems?

Before we get into the Android vs iOS Security comparison 2021 lookout and let us first look at the prevalent security difference between iOS and Android.

Android vs iOS Which Platform is More Secure

 

Here are the comparative elements that cover both the Operating System Ecosystems, comprehensively.

The Security-inclined Points of Difference in Android and iOS

1. Boot up process

Android platform, as any Android app development company would tell you offers Linux Kernel and Inter-Process Communication facility, security level. Coded with Application Sandbox, the platform gives a verified boot guarantee in which every stage cryptographically verifies the integrity of the next stage before their verification.

Android verifies the boots with the help of the dm-verity kernel feature that makes it impossible for the compromised device to boot.

While this was about Android, iOS offers the security level with Low-Level Bootloader(LLB), iOS kernel, and iBoot. LLB is primarily verified by Apple Root CS Public Key using the Boot ROM program to make sure that the iBoot Bootloader has been signed by Apple. Next, iBoot then verifies and executes the iOS kernel.

2. Security Software Update

Android offers monthly updates in its Android Security Bulletin. Even though Android gives out updates once a month, they don’t force the users to update the devices. The option to ignore the update and operate the device, in the same way, gives an escape plan to the users thus opening the android app development services to a certain probability of security breach.

Apple rolls out several versions of security updates every once in a while in a month. Apple makes it a mandate for every user to download the most recent security upgrades. By giving out continuous notifications, the OS makes it difficult for its users to ignore the security upgradations. Something that brings everyone to the conclusion that the winner of Apple vs Android security efforts is the former one.

{Read Also: Mobile Application Development Guide: Everything Worth Knowing}

3. Touch Id

While Android has recently started partnering with manufacturers who are offering  the Fingerprint Scan option, the number is still very limited.

This is not the case with Apple. Apple has always been very particular when it comes to biometric verification on their devices. It is not just for Touch ID, Technologies like Iris Scan and Face ID have also been coined by Apple first. The OS giant, keep investing millions in security-focused technologies.

4. Hardware Integration

Unlike Apple, Android app security related to hardware depends entirely on the manufacturers. While some are good at keeping a handle on the fact that all the Android’s built-in features related to security work well on their device, others might give it a lesser priority. Generally, the devices which belong to the prime categories in terms of cost come with greater security backing than ones that are low price point products.  

On the other hand, Apple has full control over its hardware security. This makes it undeniable to think that ios app development services will win the iOS vs Android security 2021-22 comparison.

5. Device Fragmentation

The greater the fragmentation, the greater the chances of introducing loopholes that are a comfortable space for heightened hacking and data breach incidents. By keeping both its device and operating system version on a lower side, Apple reduces this probability of an ios app development company facing hacks issue, by manifold.  

But the case is not the same with Android. Both – number of device variants and OS versions are on a very high side in the platform, giving an open ecosystem to hacks and breaches to breed in.

6. App Stores Story

Apple undoubtedly has greater control over the apps that come for approval and their updates. The brand takes its right to vet, reject, and remove every app that doesn’t meet its criteria, very seriously, the fact that has brought in demand for such iPhone app development companies, which can develop apps that don’t get rejected.

Google, for a long time, overlooked the necessity of following stringent rules while approving an Android app. But, now it has taken major steps.

Besides encouraging developers to focus on security in Android app development, Google employed Machine learning to detect and remove malicious applications from the Play Store in 2017. And now, it has announced that the approval time on Play Store will be high so that every piece of the application could be tested thoroughly before making it live

However, since Android is an open ecosystem, which emerges out as bliss both users and hackers, the impact of these actions on security breach incidents is high. After all, apps can be downloaded from stores other than the Play Store.

While this is the picture that has always remained, what does android vs ios 2021 look like for the two OSs on the security front?

Let’s find out.

Android vs. iOS: Which OS is Safer in 2021-22

In an article concentrated on iOS vs Android security comparison, it is essential to look at the matter with all specificity especially with the latest OS versions in focus. Let us first look into the new privacy features coming with iOS 14 and Android 11 before moving to the four key deciding factors.

iOS 14 Privacy Features 

iOS 14 has come with a series of privacy update changes reinstating it as a security-first platform for the users and businesses as well. Here are some of those updates – 

  1. Changes in IDFA – The iOS app developers will no longer have access to users’ data until they specify that they are permitting the applications to use their information for promotion and marketing purposes. 
  2. Changes in location sharing – Users will now have the ability to opt-out of offering precise location sharing. This way the apps and marketers will only get an approximate location of the users. 
  3. Privacy report – Apple will now send users a privacy report containing details of which apps are accessing their data and for how long. 

Android 11 Privacy Features

  1. Changes in permissions – The first time you open any new app you will be given three options in terms of permission – All the time, only when using the app, never. 
  2. Permission revoke – Android will keep a track of the applications you haven’t used in some time and it will revoke the permissions you had given it. This way when you open the app after a break, you will have to give it permission again. 

Now that we have looked into the new additions of Android vs iOS privacy in the new updates, the next step will be to measure them against the other common factors and come to a conclusion.

Let us compare both the OS on the basis of four important factors –

Marketplace Security

The fact that the Play Store is so much wider than the App Store comes as both a blessing and an issue. While on the one hand, the wideness gives Android users a wide option to select from, it also gives the hackers a great opportunity to leave malware apps in the crowd of millions.

Apple, on the other hand, keeps a close look at the App Store. The level of inspection that every app needs to go through reduces the available option for the users, lowers the chances of malware attacks to minimal. 

This comes up as a reason why the iOS vs Android, which is better war is always won by the former.

Platform’s Popularity

Android, undoubtedly holds a massive share of the world smartphone market, a number that is practically impossible for Apple to ever cover.

Now greater the platform popularity, the greater is the number of users attached and thus greater are the chances of a security breach.

However, it is not sound to give Android app security lesser points just on the basis of its high popularity. Because of the growing number of users, the Android app developer community has started giving greater focus to introducing the best mobile app security practices and deliver a hack-proof app.

Device Manufacturers’ Count

If there is one reason why Android is 100% lying behind Apple in terms of ‘Android vs iOS security’ is the hacks caused because of high device manufacturer count.

Because different devices come with a different focus on Security protection features, it is impossible for Google with thousands of devices under its umbrella to lay out a common set of protocols for every single one of its partnered OEMs. A problem that Apple never has to face because of its concentrated control on the device manufactured.  

Source Code Security

Both the operating systems make use of very similar security features for keeping their users safe but while Apple keeps a close watch on the source code and has functionality like SSL Pinning in iOS, the open-source nature of Android makes it difficult for the OS to do so.

To solve this gap, Google has not just employed hackers to identify the source of attack but is also increasing its bounty that the brand is willing to pay for those who report new vulnerabilities, year on year.

While on the Apps front, hoping to get a clearer sense of security in Android, Google has introduced ‘Google Play Protect’ in the Play Store. This element that entered the market with the advent of Android O behaves like a virus scanner for the Android apps, ensuring that harmful content does not get downloaded on your device, a move that has come as a major relief for Top Android App Development Companies that have been crumbling under the growing malware attack prevention pressure.

Even though Google is getting online with its Play Store Security, the story of its device update is rather on the downside in the android security vs ios security debate.

The brand will continue to push out its Android Security patches month-by-month. But while Pixel and Nexus users might get the updates on the spot, other phone manufacturers might continue to delay or even skip the updates completely.With thousands of Android devices running years old software, they will continue to be vulnerable to major hacks such as Stagefright and Heartbleed.

2021-22 will see speedy updates taking a prime position, with the past year witnessing some of the major security breaches,(remember what happened with Uber Data Breach?) placing security breaches on the forefront. If you don’t have a stock device, Android is already behind in the updated world.

Apple, on the other hand, has been working on continuously taking security to the next level in 2021, especially with its Touch ID and the FaceID. The stringent oversight that the brand has on its apps added to their ability to send out updates to their devices quickly has given the brand a sure-shot edge over its competitor. The brand even  takes measures to encrypt all the data in the iMessage and Apple’s other apps.

While Android also encrypts some data, users’ privacy will continue to be protected to a very little extent. To make its marketing efforts better and to offer a superior AI experience, Google will continue to mine data for information in 2021.

In spite of the fact that Android will be introducing new features on its Security front in 2021, iOS will win the title of Android vs iOS app security comparison this year too.

However, at the crux of the Android vs iOS which platform is the most secure debate lies the fact that the security ultimately depends on the users. Here are some things that we ask all our clients to remind their end-users in the app – 

  • Use native app stores 
  • Don’t download an app without verifying safety 
  • Update the OS versions as and when they come
  • Set up a remote wiping facility 
  • Switch on multi factor authentication 

Frequently Asked Questions about Android vs iOS Secure

Q. Which is better, iOS or android?

The answer to this question depends entirely on the factor you are focusing on. If you consider customization, Android is better than iOS. But, in the case of security, Android lags behind iOS despite putting the best effort into place.

Q. Is iPhone more secure than android?

Though both Apple and Google are coming up with the best privacy and security practices, Apple’s iOS is still leading the show. iOS has 20% less critical vulnerabilities than Android, according to mobile security statistics.

Q. Which is easier to hack: iPhone or android?

Since Android runs on the hardware designed by different manufacturers and is an open ecosystem, it is easily hackable when compared to iPhone.

Nitin Agarwal
Nitin Agarwal
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