iPhone or Android: Which is more secure?

Android smartphones have made headlines recently due to a few high-profile malware incidents. But overall, how does Android’s security compare to that of Apple’s devices?

That’s the question Symantec set out to answer in its recent report, “A Window Into Mobile Device Security.”

The answer: Each mobile operating system has its own security strengths — and weaknesses.

Users of both operating systems regularly sync their devices with cloud services, which can create other security problems.

One advantage for Apple (at least far as security is concerned) is its process for certifying apps and developers. While iOS devices aren’t completely immune from virus attacks, Apple’s more rigorous process for getting apps from developers to end users has been more effective at weeding out malware.

However the report also noted a potential flaw in Apple’s encryption method that could allow a hacker to decrypt data without knowing the user’s passcode.

Also, iOS doesn’t grant apps permission to see other apps’ data — that means if a malicious app is installed on a device, its damage will likely be contained. However, iOS devices do contain some types of information, such as contacts, calendar entries and form auto-complete info (which could contain credit card numbers and other sensitive data), that can be accessed by any app.

Android, on the other hand, requires apps to ask users for permission to access data. That makes the operating system effective at sandboxing malware to limit its damage — as long as the user knows enough to deny permission at appropriate times. But, Symantec points out, the average smartphone user probably doesn’t.

While fans of each platform may debate the pros and cons of the respective OS’s security, one thing should be clear to both sides: Smartphone security is a growing problem, and it’ll be up to IT to keep company-issued devices secure.

To read Symantec’s full report, download it here.