Data from Duo Security found that 60% of the 20,000 Android devices running the company's X-Ray application were using a version of the Android OS, 2.3.3 that was released in February, 2011. There have been five separate updates to Google's mobile operating system since then, but they account for just over 18% of the global population of Android devices, Duo Security found. Those millions of vulnerable devices are the "biggest problem in the mobile security space" today, he said.
Apple's AppStore is also nominally more secure than Google's Android Marketplace, with Apple requiring developers to identify themselves and leave a deposit, then vetting submitted apps for quality and adherence to its security and privacy guidelines. None of those are insurmountable obstacles for a determined malware author – but they are impediments and a discouragement to all but the most motivated malware author.
Malicious code authors and cyber criminal groups have taken notice. The firm Lookout Mobile security reported detecting over 30,000 instances of unique malware in the month of July – much of it targeted at Android devices. To date, iOS malware has been mostly of the 'proof of concept' variety, with few or no instances found in the wild.
The security gulf between iOS and Android has prompted some industry watchers to declare the iPhone as the successor to The Blackberry, Research in Motion's flagship product, which dominated the enterprise mobility market for close to a decade. "iPhone now as secure as BlackBerry, say tech chiefs" reads one headline. The gist of the argument is that Apple's implementation of data encryption and password protection, coupled with stronger native and third party mobile device management features make iPhones a plausible replacement for the trusty Blackberry and Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES). RIM's financial teetering no doubt adds fuel to the fire, as enterprises worry about being left without a support life line in the event of a precipitous collapse at that company.
Of course, RIM could charge back from the brink of death with its new Blackberry OS and some savvy new devices. Or, Apple could stumble badly with the iPhone 5 and its successors. The company has a sterling track record for much of the last decade, but its Apple Maps debacle certainly has eyebrows raised. Or, Google could find religion on patching and security and woo enterprises with a lower price point and some attractive management tools. What actually happens is anyone's guess.