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Schmidt claims Android 'more secure' than iOS, draws laughter

updated 01:53 am EDT, Tue October 8, 2013

Claims 'real-world' security testing by users makes it better

In the face of security studies that show that more than 90 percent of new mobile malware is found on the Android platform, Google's Chairman Eric Schmidt raised eyebrows and drew laughter at a Gartner symposium and IT expo by refuting a presenter's statement that the platform has serious security and fragmentation issues, claiming both that Android is "more secure than the iPhone," and that access to Google Play eliminates the issue of Android fragmentation.

Schmidt's remarks are par for the course for the Google chief, who previously predicted that Google TV would dominate the set-top and smart TV market by last summer, claimed developers would flock to the Android platform in 2012, and also dismissed the iPad initially as "just a big iPhone." When asked later to elaborate on his claim that Android is more secure than iOS, Schmidt simply repeated the assertion that "Android is very secure," drawing further audience -- and presenter -- laughter.

According to an FBI study from August, Android accounted for nearly 80 percent of all mobile malware threats -- with Symbian composing almost all the remaining risk -- and saw 92 percent of new threats directed at its platform. In numerous studies, both Apple's iOS and Windows Phone were deemed all but completely free of malware.

Schmidt could be confusing reports from others that iOS has more vulnerabilities than Android -- which hasn't been independently verified -- but accidentally (or deliberately) overlooking the differences. No interactive platform is without vulnerabilities, but the way they can be exploited and are used in real-world threats makes a big difference in user experience.

In the iOS system, vulnerabilities are mostly used to facilitate "jailbreaking," a hack that has become all but extinct in the last two major iOS releases. On Android, vulnerabilities combined with unapproved apps from independent marketplaces means that there is no way to patrol or stop the spread of trojan or malware-infested apps, regardless of whatever efforts Google puts into the security of its official Play store. Android has so many serious security concerns that the Pentagon has only approved its use in conjunction with Samsung-developed Knox, effectively locking out any other vendors.

Schmidt also dismissed claims of Android "fragmentation," saying that "we have an we have an agreement for vendors that you keep the Android stores compatible and that is a great breakthrough for Android." It is unclear what he means by this, as a majority of Android devices in China, for example, have no access to the Play store and do not run standard Android apps or interact with Google services at all. Even in the west, the majority of Android users are running versions two or three major releases back, and are not compatible with the majority of currently-offered Play apps for Android.

It is possible that Schmidt is relying on his company's own recently-altered statistics for Android. Google recently altered its algorithm for calculating OS version share by ignoring users running systems too old to interact with or use Play or its apps.

Because of the obvious gaps in security, Apple's iOS continues to dominate enterprise and business use, gain share from Android in North America and spawn forked versions that limit interaction with other app markets. The iPhone 5s' use of a biometric scanner (Touch ID) and Activation Lock are likely to further strengthen Apple's position in a post-BlackBerry mobile security environment.

by MacNN Staff



  1. LenE

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 05-19-04

    You know, I heard there's an opening up in Redmond. Maybe Eric is just waging a stealth campaign for the Big Job at MS...

  1. pairof9s

    Senior User

    Joined: 01-03-08 must be tough for him since he's no longer on Apple's Board to get his ideas.

  1. msuper69

    Professional Poster

    Joined: 01-16-00

    How he can say something like that with a straight face...
    What a minute

  1. jfgilbert

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 01-19-10

    If you say something with enough conviction and repeat it often enough, people start accepting it, and, after a while, it becomes true enough. Religious sects, political parties, and other groups who depend on ignoring facts have been doing this for centuries.

  1. cartoonspin

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 09-23-03

    He just jumped the shark. No one believes this. Very sad.

  1. cashxx

    Junior Member

    Joined: 04-13-09

    Would love to see the video with the laughter.....anyone know where it is?

  1. coffeetime

    Senior User

    Joined: 11-15-06

    "Windows phone is free of malware?" I can see that because no one is using it.

  1. ctt1wbw

    Mac Elite

    Joined: 01-16-01

    Access to the Google Play Store eliminates fragmentation? This is why when I still had my Nexus 7 I had lots of apps that weren't compatible with it? Wow, what a statement.

  1. G4_Kessel

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 01-15-03

    Oops! Another Schmidt Stain in Google's undies!

  1. pairof9s

    Senior User

    Joined: 01-03-08

    FYI...the Android-side of this argument, naturally, is not seeing it the same way, including a complete omission of the malware findings:

  1. TomMcIn

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 12-21-01

    And next, Schmidt is going to claim he is smarter and more talented than Jonathon Ive. The man can do either stand up comedy or replace Balmer.

  1. besson3c

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 03-03-01

    These sorts of claims are generally manipulative. Is security a tally of reported malware without taking into account their severity? Is it some sort of number of breaches? Is it technological design? Is it the strategy for dealing with third party code?

    Until we can agree upon a definition I think these sorts of claims will always be dubious, no matter who makes them.

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