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Google security chief claims Android is now just as secure as iOS

Published Mar 15th, 2018 2:17PM EDT
iOS Vs Android
Image: Shutterstock

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While no one would ever go far as to say that iOS is altogether impervious to malware, the reality over the past few years is that iOS has simply been more secure than Android. And while Google has undoubtedly made strides in bolstering security on Android, sometimes it feels as if we can’t even go a few weeks without researchers unearthing yet another nasty Android exploit.

A little less than a year ago, for example, a new piece of Android malware dubbed Judy reportedly infected nearly 37 million devices. More recently, security researchers this past January discovered a particularly sophisticated piece of Android malware called Skygofree with “never-before-seen” spying capabilities.

As Kaspersky Lab noted earlier this year:

The Skygofree Android implant is one of the most powerful spyware tools that we have ever seen for this platform. As a result of the long-term development process, there are multiple, exceptional capabilities: usage of multiple exploits for gaining root privileges, a complex payload structure, never-before-seen surveillance features such as recording surrounding audio in specified locations.

That notwithstanding, David Kleidermacher — who currently serves as Android’s chief of security — believes that subsequent improvements to Android have made the platform just as safe as iOS. Though Kledermacher didn’t reference Apple by name, the security chief told CNET that Android is as safe as any other mobile platform today. And seeing as how 99.6% of new smartphone run either iOS or some variant of Android, there’s no question who Kledermacher is referring to here.

Kledermacher’s interview with CNET was made in the wake of a new Google report titled “Android Security: 2017 Year In Review.” Therein, the search giant boasts that “Android security made a significant leap forward in 2017 and many of our protections now lead the industry.”

Specifically, Google notes that it has been working more closely with carriers, device manufactures, and others in order to strengthen the overall security of the platform.

“In 2017, we improved Android security in a variety of ways,” the report reads, “such as reducing the number of PHAs on devices and in Google Play, improving security visibility and control for users with Google Play Protect, and reducing vulnerability exploitation with faster security updates.

“To make these changes,” the report further adds, “we collaborated closely with device manufacturers, system on a chip (SoC) vendors, telecom carriers, and Android researchers and academics.”

Returning to Kledermacher’s interview briefly, the security chief noted that Google is also getting better at scanning for malicious apps on the Google Play store. What’s more, Kledermacher explains that Google has made significant strides in getting carriers to push down important security updates in a more timely manner.

“I think in 2018 we’re going to see quite a large increase in the overall percentage of devices getting these regular security updates,” Kledermacher added.

The full interview is well worth a read and can be viewed over here.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.