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Android vs iOS vs BlackBerry: Which is the most secure holiday gift?

Steve Hunt and Neohapsis | Dec. 15, 2011
As the holiday season approaches, smartphones and tablets are some of the most in-demand items for anyone with even a hint of gadget love in their DNA.

The other platforms all have their own pluses and minuses when it comes to security, and they seem to have learned from the experiences of the big players. However, they also all have much smaller market shares so we will not discuss them here. In particular we will be keeping a close eye on Windows Phone 7 as the relationship between Microsoft (big software) and Nokia (big hardware) may provide some interesting results for enterprise consideration.

Conclusions

Platform

Platform Development Rate and Deployment

Flexibility

Security Usability

Platform Security

Ecosystem Security

Privacy and Data Leakage Concerns

Ranking

iOS

OK

Poor

Great

OK

OK

OK

1st

iOS (Jailbroken)

OK

High

OK

Poor

Moderate

Poor

3rd Equal

Android

High

High (Very Good)

OK

Poor

Moderate/Poor

Poor

3rd Equal

BlackBerry

Low/Moderate

Low (inflexible by design)

OK

High

High

Great

2nd

               

So, which platform should you buy from a security standpoint? For most users the answer will be iOS, but for the technically experienced Android can work if they are careful. However, if a user is willing to jailbreak they can get many of Android's benefits anyway. Blackberry may be a good choice from a security standpoint, but generally those who want a consumer device will prefer the others for non-security reasons. Windows Phone and the other platforms may be good in future, but at present there probably has not been enough exposure to make this risk a good long term bet, especially after what happened to the touchpad.

In short, our recommendation for each type of phone user:

Non-technical person: iOS (iPhone/iPad/iPod touch)

Techie: iOS/Android

Business user: Blackberry / iOS (but check what the company standard is first)

Note: Others have reached similar conclusions on these points; for instance see http://www.symantec.com/content/en/us/about/media/pdfs/symc_mobile_device_security_june2011.pdf

 

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