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Writing about technology — including all of its benefits and shortcomings — requires time to deeply investigate and a willingness to dig for facts that can be corroborated. Even with all of the time that I invest, I still make mistakes and get some things wrong. When my subscribers and readers point out my mistakes, I say “thank you” because I’m truly grateful. Some of you know about solutions or workarounds that I’ve not seen, despite being in the tech world for over 25 years. It’s always been this way but it bears repeating: I’m learning about technology just as much as you do when I write these pieces, so I’m really glad to learn from my readers.
Sometimes, however, the feedback I get isn’t always… er: “positive”. And of all the fact-based claims I’ve made, the one that causes the most grief for my readers is this one right here:
The Apple iOS/AppStore ecosystem is — by far — safer and more secure than the Android/Google Play ecosystem.
Never mind that the above statement is true: some people clearly don’t like hearing it, especially - ahem - Android users. Look, I get it. It’s not news that anyone who has committed to the Google ecosystem wants to hear. That might be why “Androiders” (I just made that term up, do you like it?!) express their disappointment, stubbornness, anger or impatience when I make this claim. In practical terms, I’m told things like:
“If you’re really careful and know how it works, then Android is great!”
“You’re just an Apple fanboy!”
“Android is more flexible, configurable, and powerful than iOS!”
To these claims, I say:
Not everyone is really careful!
I do love Apple, but not to the point that I’d embrace them if they didn’t make easy-to-use and reasonably safe software and hardware!
Being flexible and configurable doesn’t make something safe!
Today, once again, the news supports my claim. New data released reveals that over 335 million installs of over 170 malicious apps have been tracked on Google Play, the company’s Android store platform. 335 million downloads. Go ahead, let that number sink in.
Sorry, I’m not ready to write more words, yet, friends. That’s because you still need to be thinking about how ridiculously big that number is. 335 million. That’s a huge, freaking number. Huge. But you know what’s an even bigger number than that? 500 million. This month — September 2019 — it was also revealed that there were 500 million installs of six different, malicious apps from the Google Play store. Those installs included four VPN apps and two selfie apps.
Sweet Jesus, that’s a lot of downloads.
Does that mean Apple’s AppStore is perfect? No, it doesn’t. Apple and all companies have to regularly police their distribution platforms. Apple’s missed that mark a few times.
In this instance, while nothing malicious was found, the possibility of something malicious happening was noted.
In this instance, 39 apps - all popular in China - were discovered to have a critical flaw that, in cases, could be used to copy data from your iOS device including usernames/passwords if those had been previously copied by you.
And in this instance, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology uploaded a proof-of-concept app into the AppStore that showcases HOW a malicious hacker could sneak an app past Apple’s app police.
But friends, it’s not the same. These are rare instances compared to what’s happening on the Android platform. I’m sorry, really. But I mentioned this in my Medium article — How to Set Up a Secure Phone — back in May of 2019 and the facts really bear repeating:
Apple’s iOS is — by far — safer than either Microsoft’s Windows or Google’s Android. These results have been confirmed by others. Repeatedly. And then again. And then again.
This month’s news is yet another example of how poorly the Android/Google ecosystem is fairing against malicious code, malicious apps, and the malicious hackers who take advantage of Google’s open system to hurt unsuspecting users. Apple’s ecosystem is, like it or not, safer. At least it is at the present time.
Back in 2017, one notable security expert — Mikko Hypponen — stated that Android “remains a haven for cybercriminals”. In the same article, he also stated that Windows mobile was a better choice than iOS because, in essence, so few people used it. Turns out, Microsoft agreed with him 100%: earlier this year, they announced they’re ending support for Windows mobile and will no longer update it.
You can hate me, you can be upset by the facts, and you can tell me that my pointing it out makes you feel like you’ve been duped into using an ecosystem that doesn’t protect its users. I get that. And you’d be right to feel and think those things.
But at the end of the day, you can’t reasonably debate me on this because the facts support Apple being a safer ecosystem. Is it a “walled garden” as some call it? Yes. It is. Does Apple charge a premium for its hardware? Yes, they do.
And you know what, folks: I’m happy to pay a little more to support a company that puts privacy first. That’s because I use my column on Medium and my technology newsletter to advocate for only one thing, really: safe, private, and secure computing. Pretty much everything I write is based around helping others — and myself! — achieve that goal.
So to my valued and passionate Androiders who subscribe to my newsletter, please forgive me for pointing out the obvious:
If you use an Android phone and you’d like an easy way to increase your security, your privacy and to reduce your risk of hacking: switch to using an Apple iOS device.
You might not like to hear the truth. But it’s still the truth. And for those who need enterprise-grade security, it turns out that Blackberry’s KEY2 phone is very highly rated. That’s because, even though the device runs on Android, it comes with features and services that Google and Android don’t provide by default including two years of security patches from both Google and Blackberry. Nice job, Blackberry. And here I thought your brand was dead.
However, as the writer concludes, if you don’t want that level of security, then the next best bet is…
…an iPhone. 😂
And that’s a wrap for today’s episode, everyone. Thank you again, for reading and being a subscriber. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section or by email.
As always… surf safe.
Click here for my guide on how to choose a privacy-focused VPN.
If you’re looking to set up a VERY secure iPhone, click here.
For a super cool way to NOT give your personal email address to everyone, click here.
Click here for a crash course on how to keep your devices updated.