Google Inc.’s Android operating system for mobile devices is more vulnerable to hackers and viruses than Apple Inc.’s iPhone platform, according to security-software maker Trend Micro Inc.
“Android is open-source, which means the hacker can also understand the underlying architecture and source code,” Steve Chang, chairman of Trend Micro, the world’s largest provider of security software for corporate servers, said in an interview in Taipei yesterday. “We have to give credit to Apple, because they are very careful about it. It’s impossible for certain types of viruses” to operate on the iPhone, he said.
Google, owner of the world’s most-popular online search engine, offers Android for free and allows developers access to its code for writing software. Apple, whose iOS software trails Android in smartphone market share, requires every application to be approved before being sold in its online store.
“On all computing devices, users necessarily entrust at least some of their information to the developer of the application they’re using,” Mountain View, California-based Google said in an e-mailed statement. “Android has taken steps to inform users of this trust relationship and to limit the amount of trust a user must grant to any given application developer.”
Verizon Wireless, the largest U.S. mobile-phone carrier, said yesterday it will begin selling Apple’s handset next month. Verizon’s iPhone may cannibalize about 2 million Android shipments a year, according to Dan Hays, partner at consulting firm PRTM.
‘The Next PC’
Chang said he’s betting Android users will start to buy more security software for mobile devices.
“Smartphones are the next PC, and once they’re adopted by enterprises, data loss will be a very key problem,” he said.
On Jan. 7, Tokyo-based Trend Micro released Mobile Security for Android, software that users can install on a mobile phone to block viruses, malicious programs and unwanted calls. Trend Micro aims for the $3.99 application to help it gain revenue from the more than 250 million phones Gartner Inc. expects will run on Android by 2014.
“Apple has a sandbox concept that isolates the platform, which prevents certain viruses that want to replicate themselves or decompose and recompose to avoid virus scanners,” Chang said.
Apple’s iOS isn’t fully immune to security threats and may be hit with so-called social-engineering attacks, which trick users into authorizing the download or installation of malicious software, Chang said. Trend Micro offers a security application for Apple’s iOS, he said.
Natalie Harrison, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.
Phones using Android accounted for 26 percent of the global smartphone market in the third quarter, behind Symbian, used in Nokia Oyj handsets, and ahead of iOS, which had a 17 percent share, researcher Gartner said Nov. 10.
In 2014, 259 million devices, or 29.6 percent of all smartphones, will use Android, trailing 30.2 percent share for Symbian and ahead of 15 percent share for iOS, Gartner predicted in September.
Trend Micro’s 2010 revenue is expected to have dropped 1.3 percent to 95 billion yen ($1.1 billion) and net income is forecast to be 22 percent lower, at 13.7 billion yen, according to the average of eight analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.