What is the Safest Mobile Operating System

By | April 7, 2022

We’ve made sure that your smartphone needs good security software to counter a series of hacks and flaws, but which operating system is the best at resisting the attacks?

Striving for the title of Most Secure Mobile OS, we have: Android, BlackBerry, Ubuntu, Windows Phone and iOS.

Android

The OS’s reputation has been tarnished by flaws like StageFright, which means cybercriminals can hack into your phone simply by sending suspicious multimedia messages. Google’s slow response also cost them a lot of credibility; in fact, only Nexus is guaranteed to have a patch. Otherwise, users need to turn off MMS auto-retrieval.

Because Android is open source, application developers can use complex C++ programming, or Java – which makes it easier for criminals to enter malicious code. This is a big target for malware, and a study of more than 2.5 million apps last year found that 97% of malware targeted Android.

The OS doesn’t automatically warn you of this problem, with hackers using rootkits like Ghostware, which not only hides the intent but includes any tracks after it.

It’s up to the Android community to spread the word about the app in question. Even the Google Play Store isn’t perfect, but you can at least disable a setting that allows you to download third-party apps, although “sideloading” does have its benefits. (This will at least reduce the chances of falling victim to some malicious practices; for example, a Trojan app containing Android. Fakelogin, which serves up a fake login page for the banking app you’re using, isn’t in the Google Play Store.)

And that’s the thing about Android: it’s okay if you’re happy to enable your own security settings.

Neither of these sounds very good to users, but Google at least promises a monthly update for the Nexus, the perfect “brand” smartphone. Other positives are the wealth of security applications that fight phishing and malware, provide robust anti-virus software, and a firewall.

The reality is, Android OS is the most used in the world, so it will also be the biggest target. Open source systems are very popular – with buyers and scammers alike.

BlackBerry

BlackBerry’s popularity plummeted a few years ago, despite decent reviews for their Priv handset. Their own OS has been replaced by Android (which takes some getting used to) after the PlayBook tablet, which uses a system like QNX, proved a total failure.

Handsets running on Android are prone to the same problems as Samsung, HTC, and other models. Luckily, Priv gives you access to the Google Play Store, so you don’t have to rely on third parties.

But what if you’re using an older BlackBerry with its original OS?

BlackBerry was built with security in mind, which is reassuring enough for the likes of President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron, who previously said:

“Wherever I am in the world, I am always within a few feet of my BlackBerry and the ability to manage the things that need to be managed… The government owns the BlackBerry service. They’re actually really great for emails and documents. ”

You’d think if two major governments depended on the system, they would be the most secure – and again, Canadian companies are on the ball when it comes to Priv – but is the older OS capable of protecting against hacking? Hacker Steve Lord, who runs Mandalorian Security Services Ltd, revealed:

“Older smartphones tend to be perceived as less secure because they are usually affected by known vulnerabilities. If you’re using an older phone, you’re better off with a classic dumb phone. If you must have an older smartphone, use an older Blackberry BB10, or a Windows Phone running Windows Phone 8 or later. ”

What’s more, when Sony was attacked by cybercriminals in late 2014, they relied on BlackBerry to see them through the crisis; This end-to-end encryption, regardless of recipient model, is the main reason BlackBerry remains a good option for the security-minded.

Ubuntu Touch

With the first devices running Ubuntu released last year, many predicted that manufacturers would switch from Android to a Linux kernel system instead.

For those who don’t know about Ubuntu Touch, it’s an open-source OS, similar to Android, completely free, and supported by the Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) community and Canonical Ltd, founded by Ubuntu creators. The latter ensures that new versions, including patches, are released every six months.

That’s the important part: you have to stay up-to-date. Many desktop computers running the OS do not receive security patches unless they are on an LTS (long term support) release; luckily, since their smartphone is new, they will be supported for a while.

Ubuntu prides itself on saving its users from malware and spyware, but it is open source, so some malicious applications can escape the internet. Fixes, however, usually roll out faster because the open source community has access to the code, can test patches, and send them to Linux HQ. In contrast, closed source code is only accessible to company employees.

The Ubuntu App Store is more secure because it uses an automated review tool that checks if new apps are safe, and if anything questionable is found, it’s subject to manual review as well. What’s more, you need to enable certain permissions before the app installs any surplus.

Plus, of course, there’s the fact – sorry, Linux users – that it’s not a very popular system right now (at least in relation to Android and iOS), so attacks are few and far between. As popularity increases, Ubuntu will become a bigger target. In short, as of October 2015, apps exploiting flaws in the installation code affected a total of 15 people.

Big companies like Netflix, Snapchat, and Dropbox all run on Ubuntu – as does the International Space Station and the Large Hadron Collider! – and the UK Electronic-Communications Security Group (CESG), which assesses operating system security, found in 2013 that Ubuntu is the most secure OS.
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However, the extensive list of security notices is still troubling; keep in mind, however, this is at least a patched vulnerability. Ubuntu can’t really go wrong, but time and time again, it stands up to the vulnerabilities that other OS’s face.

Windows Phone & W10 Mobile

Ubuntu may be a strong candidate for Most Secure OS, but it has serious competition from Windows Phone and W10 Mobile, which even Eugene Kaspersky (CEO of the Internet security company) endorses:

“So far so clean.”
However, he did not develop that statement. So what makes Windows Phones so secure?

Microsoft maintains the Windows App Store strictly, so unless your Windows Phone is jailbroken, you’ll need to go through official channels to download apps; it has more limitations than other operating systems, but what sets them apart is their “sandboxed” approach, meaning apps don’t interact with each other unless you give them permission. They are intertwined with each other, so they can’t cause any trouble.

Again, that doesn’t mean it’s without vulnerabilities, but a patch will be issued – you just need to update regularly. You’d have to do the same with the software itself, but it could be automated. Check if the version you’re running is the latest by going to Settings > Phone updates, and there you can also tick Update Automatic download updates if my data settings allow it.

Another positive for Windows Phones is how small the current user base is (bad news for Microsoft; good news for security); so small, in fact, that there was no firewall or anti-virus application available in Windows 8.1 when it was released.

Microsoft has a bad reputation when it comes to allowing fake apps to populate its store, but the company is fixing this in a bid to get a bigger audience.

Because it’s so new, there’s very little information about Windows 10 Mobile security, but it can be vulnerable to malware inflicted on desktop systems, as they are essentially the same (even though they use different hardware architectures). This is where the sandbox comes in to protect you. If you are using Windows 8, you will need to download a recognized security application.

An added bonus of Windows 10 Mobile is Device Encryption, which essentially locks your device if it’s lost using state-of-the-art BitLocker technology. If someone doesn’t have your encryption key, your files can’t be read. This is the PIN that you need to enable by going to Settings > System > Device encryption.

iOS

Just like the Google Play Store for Android, Apple vets all the apps in its App Store: apps exist in their own ecosystem, only available to end users once the company has checked their intent. This is known as their “walled garden” and millions of people buy into their seemingly inviolable level of security.

Then cracks started to appear.

Most notably, some 500 million users of the Chinese messenger app WeChat could fall victim to the malware after a modified version of Xcode (used by developers) was approved by Apple – and that’s not the only app that was infected. Whereas before, malware was only a problem for those who had jailbroken their smartphones, now it seems that Apple is not as secure as it once thought.

The dust never really went away after the so-called “celebgate,” when the iCloud accounts of multiple celebrities were hacked and compromised photos leaked. Suddenly, iPhone users became aware of another security threat.

John Gunn, vice president at Vasco Data Security, said:
“Apple’s security strategy is so well designed that its greatest danger is the false sense of security it provides to developers and a large number of iPhone users.”
Surely not that bad? In terms of popularity, iOS is second only to Android, but the latter’s reputation for getting viruses is much worse. Apple’s security is driven by the fact that, unlike Android, it’s a closed-source system, with sandboxed limitations so you have to agree every time an app tries to communicate with another part of the OS.

iOS’ built-in encryption is also pretty tough to compete with, but if that’s really what you’re after, WhatsApp offers an equally secure service.

The really positive thing about iPhones is how unlocked they are. After the FBI arrested gunman Syed Rizwan Farook, they appealed to Apple to unlock his smartphone. Apple refuses. They eventually found a hacker who was able to crack it, his willingness to be guaranteed a payout of $1.3 million.

This tells us that not only are iPhones quite difficult to unlock, but that Apple values ​​privacy (or at least wants to appear to support it).

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