Symantec Study Finds That Android Is Still More Secure than a PC


Despite all the security breaches and malware scares we’ve had these past few months with the Android Market, Symantec, of Norton Antivirus fame, is still giving Android and iOS the advantage when compared to the security on desktop/notebook PC’s.

Symantec performed a mobile device security study and found that Apple and Google mobile OS’s are still more secure than Microsoft’s Windows at preventing “drive-by” app installs and malware often can’t obtain as many privileges as their desktop counterparts. Also, the fact that both mobile OS’s use signatures on their apps adds a layer of security you don’t normally see on PC’s.

Of course, Apple’s iOS still comes on top as being most secure with the rigorous screening of security threats for all their apps. Of course, we’ve all heard the complaints a lot of developers have regarding the flexibility of iOS apps and it’s one of the reasons many turn to Android. While, it would be very difficult to make malware apps that could compromise iOS, Symantec says it’s not impossible.

Now in regards to Android, Symantec is saying that the company’s deliberately looser app certification process, permissions for non-Market apps and vague permissions systems are all contributing to the OS’s rapidly growing malware problem. Device fragmentation is also adding to this problem. The majority of devices being released today are not running Android 2.3 which has patched up many of the exploits malware apps have been taking advantage of. Google’s business model for their Market hypothetically leads to more variety in apps but that has lead to vulnerabilities that could now require antivirus apps.

With the presence of so many viruses and malware, it’s one of the reasons I’ve actually switched to a Mac for my personal home computer and I’ve been considering an Asus Transformer instead of a cheap netbook for my little cousin. I’m over this virus/malware stuff and I don’t feel like its something I should have to worry about in a computer or mobile phone.

But what do you guys think? Can you see Android becoming the next haven for malware and viruses or do you have faith that Google will somehow be able to prevent malware from entering the Android Market? What do you think should be done (if anything)?

[Via Electronista]

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. i srsly HATE the argument that pc’s are just this gigantic open playground for attacks while macs are the secure paradise. i have NEVER had a virus or whatever on my pc. the reason? i have common sense and don’t act like an idiot online, clicking on every random little link that i come across. 

    1. lol that’s right.. i own both macs and pcs and never had viruses on either

    2. It’s about how the OS is run ans is built. Fact is, without common sense, it is easier to get viruses on Windows than just about any other OS. I agree that it is a pretty weak argument for or against using Windows 7 being that it doesn’t take much vigilance to be virus free, but that still doesn’t change the facts.

    3. I would have to second that. But I just don’t trust girls or my mom when it comes installing those little smilies and crap from Facebook. They’re not as smart when it comes to malware on the net =/
      Psssh… girls. 

      1. I hear you. I recently had to erase a friend’s mom’s computer because she downloaded everything thing that would pop up on her computer. She had around 50 apps running at the same time and the browser would open itself to a porn site. She had lost complete control of it and a program would open up saying that she had a virus and if she paid for the app that it would go away.

    4. Look at the number of available viruses/security holes in windows based OSes. Then compare that to the same number on mac and linux.

      Your argument is basically I’ve never been robbed despite not using locks, doors, shutting windows, etc. Just because you haven’t had it happen doesn’t mean your house (in this case OS) is a security heaven. To further the example. A maximum security museum vs a standard house, just because both of them have never had a robbery doesn’t make them both equally secure.

      1. His argument is more along the lines of “I’ve never been robbed because I use locks, doors, shut windows, etc”. A little bit of common sense, and a good antivirus like Microsoft Security Essentials, can go a very, very long way.

        The only trouble my now 3 year old machine has given me is a failed hard drive. Other than that, I’ve yet to pick up any viruses, spyware, trojans, malware and whatever other crap runs around on the internet.

        1. I’d agree that yes using anti virus, a good firewall are all good and such. But you can’t deny that fact that windows simply has a TON more “known” vulnerabilities that you have to protect against, and even with an anti virus scanner people still get viruses (actually quite a lot of people).

          Different OSes have their strengths and weaknesses. Security isn’t windows’ strong point.

          1. My first MS based PC was a 286 back in the day. From then until today, I’ve had exactly one virus and that was from an infected floppy disk back in 1989. 

            All I use is the firewall that comes with Win 7, and I run MalwareBytes every once in awhile. I use different passwords on all my accounts and change them on a regular basis. 

            Just like you don’t get pregnant sitting on a toilet seat, you don’t get a virus by using Windows (or any other OS).

          2. Sorry for apple/windows fight but I have to say, I’ve had one virus in 15 years and I removed that easily in an minute with Malware Bytes. Im not that techy, I just dont download smiley central or IMPROV UR PC SPED 1500x<!!!1

          3. sorry for joining the apple/windows…*

          4. Actually Windows was found many a time to be more secure than OSX.   And you saying a TON of this and a lot of people holds absolutely no water here because YOU have no stats.  You’re going based on your own walled garden assumptions which is ignorant.

      2. No the argument is, if people weren’t so stupid about what they download and what websites they go to, Windows wouldn’t have the bad rap it does. 

        1. that’s exactly it.  I can imagine there are infinitely MORE people scammed by social engineering phishing than a virus.  Some people are just ignorant to the fact there are people out there wanting their information.   No, the Prince of Nigeria didn’t award you a lottery, idiot, so don’t send him your information.   That crap happens more than a trojan download.

      3. It’s just no one writes this crap for Apple’s OS. Why? Because of it’s midget impact around the world, comparing to PC widespread. And no one studies programming using Macs, and there’s a tiny community of devs, who writes for Macs overall.
        I once heard a very nice metaphor from a security analyst – “Having a Mac is like living in a rural area with open doors. Having a PC is like living in a condo with metal bars on the windows in the middle of Harlem.” Apple makes virtually no effort to protect their Mac users, comparing to MS.

      4. The Question is: “How many viruses for Mac/Linux would be around if Mac or Linux had the market share Windows does?”.

        The Persons writing malicious software will go the path of the least resistance or any path which promises the most profit.
        As it stands now it makes more sense to write a code that can infect 7 out of 10 computers (the rest being protected well) than writing a code not compatible with 95% of all computers.

        Im a big Linux fan and I love to work on Linux as well as I love to play on Windows. But I don’t think that if Linux was installed on as many computers as Windows, I could use it without a virus scanner as I do it now. The same goes for Mac OS.

        Since Linux is configured differently on every distribution and every user can pick from a selection of different core components it is less uniform than Win or Mac OS and therefore a bit harder to infect with a single simple script, but I have no doubt that it would not stop hackers and botnet hoarders for a day.

  2. All platforms are vulnerable, and the way I see it, if your dumb enough to get a virus(or install malware) you deserve whatever you get. 

  3. “With the presence of so many viruses and malware, it’s one of the reasons I’ve actually switched to a Mac for my personal home computer…”

    What a weak and baseless argument.

    You need to read this:

  4. Since this has turned to a Mac vs Windows thread, I’ll throw my 2 cents in. After a virgin life (never owned a PC) up until two years ago, I’m now all PC and no Macs. As a professional motion graphics designer, people sometimes gasp… “HOW CAN YOU BE A DESIGNER AND NOT WORK ON A MAC?!!!!”… I just laugh. Apple has gone so far into the consumer realm, they’ve lost their focus. They used to be a company dedicated to creating, now they’re dedicated to consuming. Steve Jobs has been quoted before saying games were a waste of time… now its what drives their mobile business which is now more popular than their desktop business. Their pro lineup is suffering badly… new Final Cut Pro X is a perfect example… strip all the high end features out in favor of a simpler to use iMovie Pro. The next release of Mac OS X with its iOS like app grid (as well as a dock, talk about redundancy)… it all just highlights Apple’s new direction. At the end of the day though, more power to them… but soon you won’t be any safer on a Mac than on a Windows machine as Apple gains more popularity, it will only become the target of more and more attacks.

    1. I concur.  I’m a compositor using a PC.   There is absolutely nothing I need a Mac for anymore.   All of my apps work great on a PC, if not faster than they did on my Macs at work.

  5. Security through obscurity. That has been the Mac’s saving grace for a long time, however that is changing slowly as the recent Mac Defender malware and its variants have proven:

    And the new variant is immune to Apple’s recent update so there are probably tons of infected Macs already. 

    The fact is, NO SYSTEM is truly secure. Only with knowledge and common sense can one can truly build a good defense.  These new strains of malware are not attacking from the outside, but rather, from the inside using the weakest link in the chain – the user.  So when someone says they are switching away from Windows because of viruses I simply laugh. I can’t remember the last time I’ve had a virus on my PC and it’s been at least 6 years since I built it.

  6. David Freer (VP, Symantec Consumer Business Units – Norton, APJ) is a BIG LIAR! He lied to me for more than two and half years for my true feelings, time, and money. Also kept saying I am the only one in his life. Even this year on Feb. 2, he used company line to lead me to have phone sex with him. Until I found out there’s some other woman, he made up another lie and finally admitted he’s been living with her for a year. Later, I realized they were all lies. He actually has married March 2009. And now he just totally disappeared and not answering any phone calls, acting like “hit & run” irresponsible baby. Can you trust someone like this, with no ethics and integrity? The more unbelievable things is David Freer newly-wed wife – SUZY WALSHAM, she shamefully admitted she was the third person who broke up David Freer & his ex 12 years relationships, and mocking at me as the 3rd “unsuspected” person, as she agreed with his husband’s behaviors!!!!!! SHAME ON both of you, DAVID FREER & SUZY WALSHAM!!!!!!! (THEY BOTH WORK FOR SYMANTEC)

    1. You’re insane.

      1. That’s putting it mildly. 

        1. LOL@ these 2 posts..

  7. As I have reported to Symantec Ethics about David Freer??????s (VP, Symantec ?????? Norton, APJ) misconducts (fraud, having dissented sex with me as he lied, using company resources for personal benefits ?????? hundreds hours phone calls, hanging out with me during office hours, negative impacts on Symantec corporate image), what they do surprise me too. They basically ignore ?????? never process the investigation, covering the serial lying & cheating criminal up, then threaten me. As Warren Buffet said when he decides which company is worth to invest, he values the CEO??????s ethic and integrity the most. Being a senior management, David Freer shall walk the talks, instead he has set up a terrible example. How dare Symantec always campaign the company itself as defeat cyber criminals, but in the real world, Symantec acts just like robbers, mafia, & criminals. How ironic!

  8. Recently, It’s getting even worse. Symantec is criminal & breaking the law. I can’t believe Symantec indulge David Freer & Suzy Walsham to get my person info through HR dept. for their own personal purposes, which is toally violating the privacy law. (as I have worked for Symantec before). As I called to Symantec headquarter & talked to legal Mona Ramamurthy & sent an email to all the management team (as they can’t pretend they didn’t know about it) and got no responses at all. What is Symantec management team’s thinking? What makes them to think they could break the law BOLDLY? Is US a legal & civilized country or what? Or Symantec thought they could just hide behind hundred of lawyers’ back and as one solo person I can barely hurt them at all? I wish President Obama would know this. Then he can tell the chairman & CEO of Symantec, Enrique Salem, the same words as he told Congressman Anthony Weiner “If I was him, I would resign” from Obama’s management advisory. I wish Symantec shareholders would know this, so they can sell the stocks to show their disagreement with their RUDE & ILLEGAL behaviors. I wish the press would start investigating this. Thank you.

  9. Singapore Police Dept & Taiwan lawyers committee has offically started the investigation!!!! (As two poor & stupid lawyers have involved to use the illegal info proividing by David Freer & Suzy Walsham to against me, they are facing the investigating, due to violating the lawyers ethics and law, which might cost them to lose their licences).I have talked to my lawyers and haven’t decided whether I shall sue Symantec US or Symantec Singapore for better result. As I don’t care about the compensation (I am sure it’s only a drop in the bucket to Symantec), all I want is Symantec fire the trouble makers or ask them to leave, as Obama asked Anthony Weiner. The worst thing I want to see is the poor & stupid HR to be put behind the bar. There are already many innocent people been dragged into the incident. Yes, you can tell a person through his associates and friends. People shall know this is the way how current CEO running the business. Of course, you cannot trust Symantec. David Freer even hacked into my email account and cc copy emails to my pastor. I’ve reported this to Symantec, they didn’t care. Can you believe it? Just can’t figure out what kind of message Symantec tried to send to the public? We are criminals? We are good at breaking the law? No one can stop us? At the same time we position us as Cyber Police and people buy it???

  10. It seems a little unfair to me to compare Android in general against iOS. Just because SOME Android devices lack certain security features doesn’t mean they all do.

    It would be like saying houses built in Canada are less secure than houses built in the US because Canadians don’t lock their doors.

  11. Do people still worry about viruses and shit?
    A few months ago I uninstalled my anti-virus program on my PC.
    No viruses since, but I can install more programs, and also, it is faster.
    You are a noob, if you worry about that stuff.

  12. With my antivirus, I have NEVER had a virus or malware, or had to reinstall the OS, and all that crap.. Best on the planet, many variations to taste..

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