[Photo Credit: Business Insider]
There have been a lot of reports in the news lately surrounding Android malware and the lack of Internet security on Android devices. The complaint about Android has been common in the news, but sources such as Android Authority have responded in stellar fashion to malware mentions whenever they appear: that is, many complain of these vulnerabilities while there are few to no stories reporting that these vulnerabilities have been exposed. If anything, Apple’s iCloud is more vulnerable than most Android software on Android devices.
All it takes, however, is for a report such as the one in question to kill much of the discussion surrounding Android malware — although I doubt the malware complaints will end. SourceFire, a web security company, recently published an Internet security report titled “25 Years of Vulnerabilities,” showing the number of Critical Vulnerabilities and Exposures (or CVEs) of the major operating systems: Windows, Android, BlackBerry, and iOS. The results of SourceFire’s study found that, of the four major operating systems and their devices, Apple’s iOS and its iPhone are the most hackable of the group.
TodaysiPhone writer Stephen Warwick wrote in an article that Apple’s closed system may explain why more users like the idea of hacking into iOS than anything else (the iPhone included). While I agree with his claim that customization explains why few Android customers root their devices, I’m not so sure I agree with the claim that the closed nature of iOS explains why many hack into their devices. This may be an explanation for computer programmers, professional jailbreakers, and IT guys, but I doubt the average consumer wants to jailbreak his or her device because iOS is a closed system.
What does the average consumer know about jailbreaking and open vs. closed systems? Not much. They may be able to guess something right about open and closed systems, but they know little to nothing (in most cases) about jailbreaking. I’ve asked several, average iPhone owners did they know about jailbreaking; they told me that the term sounded as though the act itself was illegal. Most individuals do not read tech news on a daily basis, and would not know much about jailbreaking (including the fact that it is legal and approved by the DMCA). If they know little to nothing about jailbreaking, I highly doubt they know much about open and closed systems.
Now, let’s consider the fact that the majority of jailbreakers are average consumers. I have watched jailbreak conference videos, and the audiences are small in number. If the jailbreaking population consists of only jailbreakers, then a lot fewer devices are jailbroken than the numbers imply. Take the recent Evasi0n jailbreak, for example: over 7 million downloads occurred in the first two weeks (there may have been more). Millions are downloading jailbreak programs, more than the total number of jailbreakers that exist. Thus, the numbers themselves confirm that the majority of users are average consumers — who do not concern themselves with jailbreaking, hacking, or any other computer programming practices and knowledge.
Android is known for its customizations, something for which iOS is not known. I have met a number of iPhone users who were once Android users that jailbreak because they miss Android’s customization. These users may not take to Android devices that much, but there is one thing they appreciate about their former OS. It is the fact that they cannot get over Android that moves them to hack into their iOS device. Apple, however, is taking steps to prevent this — particularly with its new iOS6.1.3 update (a point of no return in the never-ending fight between iOS and the jailbreaking community).