Smartphone Malware

More people today access the internet using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets than by using desktop or laptop computers. October 2016 was the crossover date when that happened. And as the internet becomes yet more important in daily life and used by more people, that trend will continue.

So it just makes (perverted) sense that malware creators will start attacking mobile devices as well. And the number one type of malware being created today is Ransomware.

How to avoid getting infected?

There are only two smartphone platforms of serious importance today, iOS (Apple) and Android (Google). For a brief introduction on the two, CLICK HERE.

smartphone with virus

Apple and Google each take very different approaches to their mobile OS. iOS is a closed system, highly controlled by Apple. Android, on the other hand, is an open system.

The total control that Apple has on iOS yields these benefits:

  • Apps may be downloaded only from Apple's curated app store.

  • Updates are more frequent and deployed to Apple devices far sooner.

  • The uptake for iOS updates is very high.

  • Device Lockdown.

  • Apple supports non-current devices far longer.

Let's expand on what I said above and why it's important.

> Curated App Store
Unless you jailbreak, you cannot install apps from any source except the official Apple App Store. Why is this a good thing? Every app on the app store is examined for safety. Lots of apps might be a stupid money suck, but at least they're free of malware. If an author includes malware in their app, it'll be rejected by Apple's automatic curating system. It's a very effective gatekeeper. Your chances of downloading malware infected apps from the App Store are for all practical purposes non-existent. To be fair, malware has occasionally sneaked in, but it's exceedingly rare.

Android: The Google Play Store is also curated. But it's possible to download apps from other repositories that aren't curated well -- or at all.

> More Frequent Updates
When a vulnerability is discovered in iOS, depending on the severity of the vulnerability, Apple might fix it right away. If not so serious, they may wait a little longer and include it with a later update.

Android: The entire Android update system is a huge mess. My article HERE discusses the big problem that the Android platform has with updates.

> Uptake for iOS updates is very high
This simply means that when Apple updates iOS, the vast majority of iPhone and iPad users get the updates -- and they get them far sooner after the update is released.

Android: Here, too, the entire Android update system is a huge mess. Read my article on why.

> Device Lockdown
This just means that apps can only access system resources that Apple allows. Apps generally cannot access resources that might endanger other apps or the operating system. Similarly, web browsers, often a transmission vector due to visiting infected websites, are locked down tightly. So inadvertently visiting an infected website on an iPhone or iPad is far less likely to infect your device.

> Longer Device Support
iPhone and iPad devices enjoy support two to three times longer than Android devices. Some iPhone models have seen upward five years of support and three years is common.

Android devices, on the other hand, usually reach end-of-life after two years -- and only one year in some cases.

What should I buy

Heh heh... that should pretty clear by now. If you aren't a computer geek that likes to twiddle with phones, the iPhone is the way to go, hands-down, period. For non-geeks, there's really nothing an Android phone can do that an iPhone cannot.

The iPhone and iPad simply don't need anti-malware products, they're that safe.

So there you have it. Buy an iPhone and worry not about malware.