There’s a multi-faceted race going on in technology these days as gadget makers work feverishly to put into place massive personal security options on their mobile devices ahead of government intervention into privacy.
Who will win? Government? Or, Apple and friends? Among the friends-against-government, Apple holds a decided advantage; a growing gap not likely to be closed soon by Google, Samsung, or other mobile device makers. One word. Fragmentation.
The battle lines are drawn. The foes have lined up on their respective sides, ready to do battle. Already we’ve seen border skirmishes between governments and technology giants. Who will win the war is unknown but Apple has staked out an early lead.
Wait. Isn’t Android OS as secure as iOS? For the sake of argument, let’s say yes. Is OS X more secure than Windows? Again, for argument’s sake, let’s say no. For this argument, under the proper circumstances, all platforms are equally secure, on average, for the average device user.
How does Apple win?
Forgetting the technology for a moment, Apple’s customer base tends to upgrade to the latest versions of each OS– iOS and OS X– with far greater penetration than Android or Windows. The iOS numbers are particularly astounding with nearly 90-percent of all iOS devices running the latest version from Apple.
The Numbers Game
Those numbers are not the same with OS X on the Mac, but are far higher than Windows, thanks again to both fragmentation and previous OS update pricing requirements from Microsoft. Google’s Android fares even worse where, on average, only the most recent devices sold get the most recent security updates. Hundreds of millions of Android devices are left without upgrade or update path which makes those users more vulnerable to government or criminal hackers (I’m not sure there’s much difference).
Apple’s customer base stands in stark contrast in other ways. Touch ID on iPhone and iPad help to secure mobile devices while providing exactly the ease-of-use customers want. After all, if security isn’t easy to use, then it won’t get used, hence less security.
Google claims Android has over 1.5-billion users worldwide, the vast majority of which have insecure devices. On the other hand, Apple claims to have over 1-billion users worldwide, the vast major of which have devices that run the latest versions of each OS.
What Apple needs to do now is to continue the trend toward more security and ease-of-use. Touch ID is great. Sure, it can be hacked but that’s unlikely to occur to the average iPhone user. What Apple could do to augment the fingerprint ID security level is to employ a combination of voice recognition (with a key password) and facial recognition (perhaps with an exaggerated face, which, in concert with Touch ID and the voice command) to provide users with an ultra secure device.
It’s one thing for government authorities to demand and receive a backdoor key to open a secure device, but adding extra layers beyond Touch ID would benefit users at the government’s expense.