Report finds iOS apps riskier than Android apps

A study from Appthority of security and risky behavior in mobile apps yields some concerning results.

How many apps do you have on your smartphone or tablet right now? Well, take that number, and multiply it by 0.9. That's about how many of your apps are a potential security concern according to a new study from Appthority.

The Appthority Reputation Report for Winter 2014 was compiled using data from the cloud-based Appthority App Risk Management Service. Appthority performed static, dynamic, and behavioral app analysis of 400 paid and free apps spanning iOS and Android to assess the relative security and risky behavior of the most popular apps.

Appthority found that 95 per cent of the top 200 free apps on iOS and Android exhibit at least one risky behavior. That number drops to 80 per cent for paid apps--an improvement, but four out of five paid apps exhibiting risky behavior is hardly something to cheer about. Appthority also discovered that iOS apps are riskier overall than Android apps- 91 per cent contain risky behavior as opposed to 83 per cent on Android.

They risky behaviours vary, but include things like location tracking - found in 70 per cent of the free iOS and Android apps - weak authentication, sharing data with ad networks, accessing the contact list, or identifying the user or UDID.

There are a couple significant caveats to the idea of iOS being a greater risk. First, Android apps have a much higher presence of accessing the UDID or identifying the user. Apple took steps to prevent developers from accessing UDID information on iOS mobile devices--but some developers have found ways to circumvent those rules.

The other thing that separates Android from iOS is that, although there are more iOS apps that exhibit risky behavior, the Android apps tend to collect more information about the user and the user's mobile activities than their iOS counterparts.

To sum up, a higher percentage of iOS apps include risky behaviors than Android apps, and paid apps are generally less risky than free apps.

The differences in many cases are small and semantic, though. The fact that iOS has a higher percentage than Android may offer some small consolation to Android users, but the fact that nearly all of the apps on both major mobile platforms exhibit at least one risky behavior should be a red flag for both app developers and mobile device users--as well as for Apple and Google themselves.

The real lesson to be found in this report is that app developers recognize the financial value of gathering user data, and that mobile apps in general have a long way to go in terms of security and respecting a user's privacy.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags appsiossecuritymobile securitysmartphonesAppthorityAndroidsoftwareoperating systemsAppleconsumer electronics

More about AppleGoogle

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Tony Bradley

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts