Google’s chairman doesn’t specify why his company’s platform is more secure, but points to its “real world” rigorous security testing.
Google’s open source Android platform is more secure than its notoriously closed source iOS competitor, according to Google’s chairman.
Schmidt made the statement at a conference in Orlando hosted by Gartner.
“If you polled many people in this audience they would say Google Android is not their principal platform… When you say Android, people say, wait a minute, Android is not secure,” Gartner analyst David Willis asked of Schmidt.
“Not secure?” Schmidt responded. “It’s more secure than the iPhone.”
“Android is very secure,” he continued. “You will be happier with Gmail, Chrome and Android more than you can possibly imagine.”
Schmidt didn’t elaborate on his comments, so its not clear if he was talking about the security upgrades implemented in the latest version of Jelly Bean 4.3 or the fact that that the open source model of Android makes it more secure than its notoriously closed source competition iOS.
Within the security community there’s a active debate on whether open source software is more secure based on its nature. Traditional thinking goes that having the code open for inspection makes bugs more easily found by white hats and grey hats, leading to a faster bug to patch time. Closed source software, on the other hand, can be less secure because it doesn’t have the open source community to proofread the code.
While browsers aren’t directly comparable to mobile operating systems, consider the paradigm of Mozilla Firefox vs Internet Explorer. There was once a time when users flocked away from Internet Explorer to Firefox because of its insecurity and instability. Now, Mozilla’s Firefox browser is notorious for having some of the most high-severity vulnerabilities, second only to WIndows XP, and places well behind Internet Explorer in browser penetration contests.
In Android’s case its open source nature may be a blessing and a curse. Blackhats can examine the code for weakness, but at the same time security analysts have to code available to harden. Android has that advantage over iOS, but as Schmidt didn’t elaborate more on his comments we’ll never know why exactly he believes, or knows, Android is more secure.