Android vs. iOS: Which One Will Keep You More Secure?

Smartphones may make our lives more convenient, but where you see a device that allows checking in to your favorite locations and using mobile banking, data thieves see a device that tracks your movements via GPS and holds credit card or bank account information. Though the thought of such a data theft might be the stuff of nightmares, you can stay secure on the two major mobile operating systems if you know how security is handled differently on Android vs. iOS.

iOS: A Locked-Down Platform

iOS is often touted as the most secure mobile operating system, and for good reason: it is completely locked down. Any content uploaded to the App Store must be screened, and the operating system’s impregnable interface ensures that even malware downloaded from the Internet cannot corrupt the device. However, the main threat to iOS users comes not from malware, viruses, or technical exploits, but from so-called “AppleJackers” who steal iPhones and then use jailbreaking software to extract data. However, jailbreaking has been in decline in recent years since Apple regularly releases patches and software updates that make it more difficult to jailbreak the newest version of the iPhone.

Protect yourself from stolen data by activating the “Find My iPhone” feature on your phone. If you do lose your phone, you can log in to the service via the Web or other connected device and remotely erase all your data. From time to time, exploits that simplify unlocking iPhones that have PIN or finger-scan locking enabled are also found, but Apple has thus far been immediately releasing patches as soon as these exploits are found. Simply making sure your phone is updated with the latest version of iOS is often enough to make sure you don’t fall prey to these exploits and security gaps.

Android: Freedom with Precaution

From its inception, the Android operating system was designed to be an open platform that would give users the freedom to download any app and customize their devices in any way they wanted. Unfortunately, with this freedom comes malware, exploits, and security vulnerabilities. Fortunately, there are ways to promote a secure environment on Android devices. Reputable companies like Avast! and F-Secure offer apps that protect Android users from accidentally downloading malware from the Google Play store; many of these apps also help protect users in the event of a stolen device. Though Android is, by design, less secure than iOS, ensuring you are protected with security software—and making common-sense decisions when downloading suspicious-looking apps—will go a long way toward keeping your Android free of malicious software.

Though iOS is clearly the more secure mobile operating system when it comes to Android vs. iOS, the fact of the matter is that both operating systems are safe if they’re used intelligently. So long as you don’t mind sacrificing the freedom of Android for the strict iOS operating system, you will certainly enjoy a higher level of overall security. However, if you generally prefer Android, make sure you download some form of security software—both Avast! and TrustGo are great free options, according to PCWorld—and don’t make yourself vulnerable by downloading apps from companies that seem suspicious.

What methods do you use to make your Android or iOS device more secure?

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