First of all, most people– iPhone users or Android smartphone users– don’t seem to care much about security; weak passwords, if used at all, are all the rage these days. Secondly, Apple seems to be unwilling to talk a little smack about iPhone’s huge security lead over Android because bad news travels much faster than good news. Here’s what I mean.
Black Hat Said So
Speakers at the Black Hat Cybersecurity Conference in Las Vegas pointed out the obvious security issues and the disparate positions between iPhone and iOS vs. Android smartphones.
Allison Gatlin summed it up:
iPhones are drubbing their Android counterparts on the mobile security front… But Apple’s dominance isn’t necessarily tied to a more potent security posture.
Wait a minute. iPhones are more secure, but they’re not any more secure? In essence, that’s what Gatlin is saying. Apple’s dominance over Android devices is a dominant position built upon something else than tight security of the device and its operating system.
One major difference between iPhone users and Android smartphone users is how often they upgrade their devices with a new OS or update to a newer version that has security holes plugged and bugs fixed. iPhone users update every few months as Apple releases new iOS versions, while most Android smartphone users upgrade about every two years– when they buy a new phone.
That’s because the Android market is vastly more fragmented than Apple’s. Apple relies on a singular iOS vs. a multitude running on Android smartphones. At one time, patches were released every six months.
But those patches fell on deaf ears, so to speak. Many Android models are just not easily upgradable and cell phone makers and companies don’t care. They would prefer their customers buy a new device.
No. Smack. Talk.
That situation explains why we don’t hear much smack talk from Apple about how much better security is on iPhone vs. Android phones. It’s a general thing, vs. a specific comparison. Is an iPhone 6s Plus, locked down tight with long password and Touch ID fingerprint identification security any more secure than a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 with similar security and an iris scanner?
It depends. Samsung is getting better at rolling out Android OS updates, but nothing compares to how Apple has trained its customers to perform– almost automatically– similar iOS updates. For example, Android OS Marshmallow, the latest version of Android, was launched about a year go, and near the same time when Apple launched iOS 9. Since then, customer adoption of iOS 9 is nearing 90-percent, as it always does this time of year, while Android Marshmallow barely topped 10-percent adoption.
That makes Android devices less secure– by not receiving needed OS updates– than iPhones.
Apple can tout that difference but can’t say much about how much more secure an iPhone is than a similarly equipped and priced Android smartphone running the latest OS. Why not? Not that much difference.
What about malware? Ah, that’s another store and Android doesn’t look so good there, but today’s malware is less about platform than it is about users, yet Apple’s iPhone customer base– probably pushing one billion by now– has less to worry about because of the App Store’s restrictions than Android device owners who seem to collect malware like Pokemon creatures.
Apple doesn’t talk much smack about security because that tends to come back to haunt whenever security is compromised. So, it’s better to shut up, not say a word, and have people wonder how dumb the company is, than to speak up and remove all doubt.
When I was a child my father told me much the same thing in an attempt to get me to shut up.