Mobile Apps: Which are More Secure Android or iOS?

Note:

This is a weekly post where we address questions of interest to the Application Information Security Community. To that end, we’d love to hear your questions! Please Tweet us with the hashtag #ThinkAppSec or leave us a comment below and we’ll pick one or two questions from that list.

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This week I was in Boston Chairing the Mobile and Smart Device Security Conference. This weeks questions were inspired by speaker sessions and questions from the audience.

1. Which Apps are More Secure Android or iOS?

Charlie Miller, renowned mobile security researcher now working full time on security for Twitter delivered the Kick-Off Keynote and had strong opinions about this. He came down squarely on the side of iOS apps being less risky than Android apps, in part because of the checks that apps have to go through at Apple before being approved for the iTunes store. For more on Charlie’s take, please check out this article at InfoSecurity Magazine.

But “secure” may depend on your definition. A recent AppThority report tagged 100% of iOS as being “risky” for sending and receiving sensitive data that’s not encrypted. By comparison, only 92% of the Android apps in the report failed to protect sensitive data in transit. The same report found 54% of IOS apps have access to a user’s contact list while only 20% of Android apps do. And, perhaps not surprisingly, Google’s Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt has publicly stated that Android is more secure than iOS.

Arguably, the better question for an enterprise to ask, is are the apps we’re using secure enough to protect our business and customers regardless of what platform they’re running on.

2. Are Mobile Application Reputation Services valuable to Enterprises?

This is a bit of a tricky one! The excellent speakers from Bishop Fox who delivered the talk “Mobile Application Security: Testing and Code Review” were doubtful of the value of these services and that sentiment was echoed by people I spoke with directly. Many of the attendees hadn’t started using them yet. There was also quite a bit of confusion about what mobile application reputation is and whether or not it overlaps with mobile anti-virus. A few attendees were consuming mobile app rep feeds and using them to determine white and blacklisting in the MDM (mobile device management) console.

What are you hearing in regards to mobile app rep? Is it a priority for 2014? Does it provide value to the Enterprise?

 

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Diana Kelley

Executive Security Advisor, IBM Security

Diana Kelley is an internationally recognized information security expert, speaker, strategic advisor, market analyst and writer. She has over 20 years of IT security experience including: risk management development, compliance advisement, project management, systems and network architecture development and hands-on implementation. In the course of her career she has delivered security advisory services to IBM, Microsoft, the US Government, Intel, Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, Shell, PKWARE, Symantec and CA.