Google’s Android OS has a lot going for it, but it’s also far more vulnerable to hacks than competing operating systems, research has shown.
A common complaint about Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS, is that it’s too restrictive. The OS is fast and very easy to navigate, providing the essential functions for any mobile user in a sleek, clutter-free environment, but it lacks the kind of customisation options that many of today’s mobile users demand and, in typical Apple style, it is notoriously uncooperative when it comes to trying to connect non-Apple devices.
Android OS, meanwhile, takes a totally different approach. Customisablility is at the core of Google’s mobile operating system, with users able to tweak their devices in ways that iPhone users can only dream of. This allows them to install countless widgets from both big-name companies and individual developers to make their phone function exactly as they want it to — it’s little wonder Android now has the current largest install base of any OS.
But with great customisability comes great vulnerability, it seems, and a troubling number of potential chinks in Android’s green-plated armour were identified in 2016. According to figures released by CVE Details and shared by statistics portal Statista, Android OS was found to have a whopping 523 known vulnerabilities in the last year alone — more than three times those found in Apple’s iOS.
Here’s how the current crop of operating systems compared in 2016 (click to expand):
But before Android users start questioning whether their platform’s flexibility is worth the risk of having all their data stolen, Statista also reports that in 2015 iOS had far more potential security weaknesses than Android, with 387 vulnerabilities found in Apple’s OS versus just 125 in Google’s. Another important thing to bear in mind is that, although Android appears to have suffered something a reversal of fortune on paper, the severity of these potential weaknesses is not stressed in the data, and can vary enormously. Besides, companies like Apple, Microsoft and Google frequently identify and patch potential weaknesses in their software without ever reporting them or even assigning said vulnerabilities a number in order for them to be recorded in such reports as these.
Regardless, whatever your mobile platform of choice, it’s important to remember to treat your smartphone like you would a desktop or laptop computer — despite smartphones’ small size, they are, after all, highly sophisticated pieces of technology and, being connected to the Internet 24/7, should be protected from threats by their users just as much as the people behind their respective operating systems.