Android vs. iOS: Security comparison 2023

Android vs. iOS: Security comparison 2023

December 28, 2023 privacy 0
Android and iOS smartphones are taking over the world, but that could be good news for cybercriminals as well. If you value mobile phone security, you’ll probably want to compare Android and iOS on that front. Here’s how they measure up across a range of different features.

Contents Are iPhones more secure than Android devices? App marketplace security Device manufacturers Updates to patch vulnerabilities Support for third party security apps Operating system source code security Popularity Android vs. iOS: The threat level Is it easier to hack an iPhone or Android? Hardware integration What do iOS and Android security have in common? How to stay safe on Android and iOS
Are iPhones more secure than Android devices?

When it comes to smartphone safety in 2023, iOS wins the race against Android. Apple has more robust security controls over its app marketplace than Google. Apple also suffers from security vulnerabilities less frequently thanks to stricter management of devices in the iOS ecosystem and their updates. Meanwhile, mobile malware targets Android devices more often than iOS because of its broader range of devices, which makes it harder to manage, and also as a result of the open nature of the Android operating system. Though Android has been working hard to clean up its act, Apple didn’t rest on its laurels. In 2023, iOS updates included many security improvements, including recording indicators and password and tracker monitoring in Safari, which helped to limit app tracking and intrusive data gathering on iOS mobile devices. Check out our video below to get a better picture of iOS vs. Android security.

App marketplace security

Winner: iPhone Every app on the Apple App Store is closely inspected, which might reduce the number of apps available but helps to reduce malware-riddled apps and security issues. Android’s open Google Play Store marketplace has far more apps to choose from than Apple’s App Store, but there’s a greater chance that hackers can make it onto the platform to distribute malware through malicious apps. On numerous occasions, highly ranked apps with hundreds of thousands of downloads from the Google Play Store have been discovered to contain Android malware. Android users can also change their settings to allow apps outside the Google Play Store. This provides an even greater selection of apps but exposes users to the risk of downloading a malicious app. Apple’s secure App Store wins on this front. You should also make sure to avoid third-party app stores. While the Play Store and the App Store have their faults, they’re both much safer than the many unofficial app marketplaces elsewhere online.

Device manufacturers

Winner: iPhone Apple devices’ integrated design makes security vulnerabilities less frequent and harder to find. Apple’s mobile devices and their operating systems are inseparable, giving them far more control over how they work together. While iOS device features are more restricted than Android, the iPhone’s integrated design makes security vulnerabilities less frequent and harder to find. Android’s open nature means its operating system can be installed on a wide range of devices. Depending on the manufacturer and the model, this can be both good and bad. Some mobile devices integrate perfectly with Android, while others leave significant security vulnerabilities. Device-based security across Android devices also varies – some offer retinal and fingerprint scanners, while others are limited to passwords and patterns. {SHORTCODES.blogRelatedArticles}

Updates to patch vulnerabilities

Winner: iPhone Apple updates are easier to control across devices, promising consistent security. Android and iOS software updates and security updates are the main way for Apple and Google to keep their devices secure. Because Apple strictly controls the devices in its ecosystem, updates are easier to create and distribute. This also means that Apple can usually keep iOS devices updated for longer, generally withdrawing official support after five years. The number of Android devices Google has to serve makes it virtually impossible to keep all of them updated to the same level of security and for the same amount of time and frequency. It also makes it harder to roll those updates out because they have to be distributed across multiple manufacturers and devices. Updates come out less frequently, and mobile devices are supported for less time.

Support for third party security apps

Winner: iPhone and Android These two operating systems support a wide range of security apps, including VPNs. A device’s built-in security features are of vital importance. But so is the possibility to integrate third-party security services, such as antivirus software and VPN applications, into its operating system. Thankfully, iPhone and Android smartphones both support the most popular and valuable security apps, including NordVPN. With the NordVPN app on your device, you can protect your iOS or Android device against hackers, Wi-Fi snoopers, and data brokers. } />

Operating system source code security

Winner: iPhone and Android Apple closely guards its source code, while Android has made most of its operating system open-source. Apple’s closed-source code makes it harder for hackers to find security flaws. While Android’s open-source nature could mean the exact opposite, it also makes the code more easily accessible to various app developers, something that Google is slowly beginning to use to its advantage. In addition to its own security research, Google has increased the bounties it’s willing to pay independent security researchers to report new Android vulnerabilities. At a major annual mobile security event in 2017, mobile security researchers failed to collect a single bounty for finding Android hacks.


Winner: iPhone Less users means fewer targets and less motivation for hackers to develop malware for the iPhone. The smaller number of possible victims that use iOS and its heightened security make the iPhone a somewhat less attractive target for hackers. Android is the most used smartphone in the world, but its popularity has become its weakness: More users means more reasons for hackers to develop malware for Android. However, there is a silver lining for Android users. Android’s popularity and open marketplace mean a far wider range of security apps are available. The security of your Android operating system and device out of the box may vary, but with the right apps, you can take it to the same level of security as iOS or even further. Android vs iPhone

Android vs. iOS: The threat level

The threat level on both operating systems depends largely on the ease and rate at which hackers can develop exploits. Apple’s closed development operating system makes it more challenging for hackers to gain access and find system vulnerabilities. However, it doesn’t make iOS devices immune to cyber threats. Meanwhile, Android’s open-source code allows it to receive speedy feedback from industry experts who continuously monitor it for possible vulnerabilities. However, Android operates numerous devices that use different versions of its operating system. Because of that, manufacturers and carriers may not always deliver the needed updates for a specific device group in a timely manner.

Is it easier to hack an iPhone or Android?

The likelihood of your phone being hacked partially depends on how you use your device and what safety precautions you take. At the end of the day, both Android systems and the iPhone can be hacked. iOS security focuses more on software-based protection, while Android uses a mixture of software and hardware-based protection. Ultimately, a device is only secure up to a point unless you take your own precautions. To improve security on iOS or Android, you can use the NordVPN app to encrypt your data and secure your smartphone online. {SHORTCODES.blogRelatedArticles}

Hardware integration

Before picking an OS, you should also consider hardware integration. We didn’t include this one on the comparison list because determining a clear winner is very much context-dependent. The hardware of all iOS-powered devices has the same level of security since they’re all being produced by one company. On the other hand, Android is used on hardware from various manufacturers, so it’s harder to assess its security integration. Some Android device manufacturers, like Samsung, have additional security features built into their hardware, while others don’t. That’s not a fault of Android but rather a symptom of how diversified Android devices are. In short, neither operating system can objectively claim better hardware integration for security purposes. Apple’s system is more consistent since they are the only iOS developers. But if you’re going with Android, you should research the specific hardware you will run the operating system on.

What do iOS and Android security have in common?

iOS and Android have similar built-in features, including virtual sandboxes that limit the damage that malware apps can do. iOS drive encryption comes as a standard, while Android users must enable this feature. Both operating systems fully support VPN encryption, which is especially important for mobile devices.

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How to stay safe on Android and iOS

Follow the advice below to stay safe online when using your mobile phone: Download apps from official stores. Try not to download apps from third-party websites – you can never know if they’re legitimate and safe. Use strong passwords. A strong password should contain lower-and uppercase letters, special characters and numbers. Make sure to create unique passwords for every account you have. Avoid logging into apps using Facebook. Many apps and websites allow you to log into their services quickly using your Facebook profile. However, if your Facebook is compromised, hackers can easily access all the other accounts linked to it. They can then steal your identity and launch social engineering attacks against your friends and other contacts. Update your software on time. iOS and Android updates fix bugs and add new security features. It’s tempting to postpone updates for later, but if you do so, you’re putting yourself at risk. Use a VPN. A virtual private network hides your IP address and encrypts your traffic, mitigating the risk of getting hacked. If you often connect to public Wi-Fi, having a VPN on Android or, if you use Apple, a VPN for iPhone is a must because wrongdoers can use fake hotspots to infect your device with malware. NordVPN iOS and Android apps come with the Dark Web Monitor feature, which notifies users if their personal details are ever leaked on the dark web. With one NordVPN account, you can protect up to six different devices: smartphones, laptops, routers, and more. NordVPN also offers Threat Protection, a feature that helps you identify malware-ridden files, stops you from landing on malicious websites, and blocks trackers and intrusive ads on the spot. } />

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