Apple Senior Vice President of Marketing, Phil Schiller, has a message for the world: Android suffers from lots and lots and lots of malware, thank you very much. Mr. Schiller tweeted a pointer to F-Secure's Mobile Threat Report for Q4 2012 with a helpful message, "Be safe out there."
Apple's marketing chief has plenty of reasons to be pleased at the report, including the fact that F-Secure found that the Android platform accounted for 79 percent of mobile malware, while iOS accounted for 0.7 percent.
The chart below shows the breakdown of malware threats in 2010, 2011, and 2012. Note the significant decease of threats to Symbian OS over the years—Nokia has discontinued development of the OS and moved to Windows Phone for its smartphones.
Threats to Windows Phone also decreased as that platform sank into obscurity. Threats to Android, on the other hand, have rocketed, claiming 79 percent of malware.
Malware Threats by platform in 2010, 2011, and 2012
"Android malware has been strengthening its position in the mobile threat scene," the company said in its report. "Every quarter, malware authors bring forth new threat families and variants to lure more victims and to update on the existing ones. In the fourth quarter alone, 96 new families and variants of Android threats were discovered, which almost doubles the number recorded in the previous quarter."
The chart below shows how quickly malware threats are increasing for Android, even while they plummet for the other platforms.
What about iOS? There will no doubt be some folks out there whose takeaway from this report will be that iOS malware threats increased ∞ percent from 2011 to 2012. Note that you can safely disregard them as unworthy of consideration.
As F-Secure noted, "Other platforms, i.e., Blackberry, iOS, windows Mobile, they may see some threats popping up once in a while. But most likely, the threats are intended for multiple platforms similar to the case of FinSpy4."
The reality is that this is a product of the open vs. closed nature of Android and iOS (to focus on just those two platforms). Android is an open OS with many OEM licensees and many app stores servicing the needs of its users (Google Play being the largest). It's largely a free-for-all, with both benefit and detriments.
Apple's iOS is a closed system open to developers are subject to strict limits on what they can and can not do. They must then submit their apps to one app store, the App Store, where their submissions are tested and curated by Apple. This, too, has benefits and detriments, as demonstrated by this report.
Choose your poison, and to channel Mr. Schiller, be safe out there.