Android vs. iOS: Which Is More Secure?
Android and iOS fans love to argue about the differences between their operating systems and the superiority of one over the other. And while engaging in a long-term argument about that sort of thing might be a bit pointless, it’s worth remembering that the two operating systems are fundamentally different, and it’s not a matter of a fan’s perspective. Apple and Google have different core philosophies regarding how their systems should be developed in the long run.
Security is a specific area that’s often argued about. And while both systems are quite safe in their own ways, they handle things a bit differently, and there are some points one should keep in mind. In general, Android can be quite attractive to users who like to tinker with their devices, while iOS is better suited for those who need more restrictions in their daily work to stay safe.
Both Android and iOS offer users various options for physically locking down their devices. Built-in data encryption means that an attacker will not be able to compromise the device by plugging it into their computer, while the various available password protection systems should keep pesky fingers off your screen.
You can take things even further with security devices such as unlocking your phone with your fingerprint, eye scan, and other fancy means. It’s a feature that you should enable immediately after getting a new phone, something which many people seem to forget, even today.
On both operating systems, users can’t install new apps without going through the official app store, at least not by default. Both stores are curated by their respective companies, and while Apple occasionally gets some negative press for their heavy-handed approach to this, it’s not a bad thing in the long run. It’s true that Google makes it much easier to publish an app to their store, but it can be challenging to find a legitimate tool in the sea of shady apps designed to spam their users with ads.
It’s possible to install custom apps on Android and iOS alike, although it requires some tinkering in both cases. For iOS, users need to “jailbreak” their devices, a procedure reserved for those with more knowledge since it unlocks various parts of the operating system that normally stay locked down.
Encryption is supported out of the box in both cases, and it’s hard to tell whether Android or iOS is more secure in this aspect. Users who want to secure their connections additionally can use a VPN without any hassle on both operating systems. All popular VPN service providers support Android and iOS, so that shouldn’t be a factor when picking a VPN subscription to go with.
Keep in mind that the operating system itself still won’t be able to protect you from security issues caused by faulty apps or something along those lines. Thus, you should always be careful regarding what you’re installing on your phone/tablet and what kinds of credentials you provide to those apps.
General System Security
As we mentioned above, it’s possible to circumvent the built-in restrictions of Android and iOS with some tinkering. Android allows users to do it in a “hidden” way that involves a specific series of taps on the screen. This provides access to a “developer settings” panel from where various advanced operating system settings can be adjusted. It should go without saying that this could compromise the security of the system, though, so only experienced users should do it.
iOS has no such functionality out of the box, but users have come up with a way to circumvent its built-in restrictions, making the system much more customizable. Apple does not officially support this activity, however, and they are constantly battling the developers of related tools.
The final verdict
Android and iOS can be equally insecure in the hands of users who ignore the warnings they get from the operating system, skip all essential app and OS updates, and follow poor security practices like reusing passwords everywhere. Used by someone more sensible, they are equally well-equipped to keep your data safe, just in different ways.