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Android and iOS security mechanisms

Though security by itself is priceless, there still is one thing about it – people tend to remember about security when the system is hacked. The situation with mobile devices is even worse. Today users know a lot about the consequences of desktop and web applications hacking, though they never think smartphones and tablets security.

In fact, there are three categories of people caring about mobile device security:

  • Users
  • Product developers and owners
  • Corporations

Every group has its own risks and security requirements. We`ll try to cover the Android and iOS security mechanism that is essential for mobile app security testing of each group.

From the developers viewpoint the main risk is client loss as a consequence of hacker`s attack. Actually, Android and iOS are similar in resisting local and web attacks. Though, if developers follow the security criteria in the process of development, they are able to develop a well-protected application for Android and iOS.

Generally Android applications are written on Java language are immune to buffer overflow attacks unlike iOS applications written on Objective-C. Still, Android applications are easy to decompile and interchange the primary code to the harmful one, thus developers are to apply code obfuscation techniques.

Though the iOS applications are vulnerable to the buffer overflow, iOS developers use mechanisms that can prevent exploitation of these vulnerabilities. Among those mechanisms are used compilation parameters like PIE (Position Independent Executable), SSP (Stack Smashing Protection) and ARC (Automatic Reference Counting). These parameters effectively manage memory and prevent the mistakes that can lead to the buffer overflow. Moreover, on the presentation of iOS8 Apple introduced the new programming language – Swift – that would be used instead of Objective-C. It is claimed that the new language is more secure. If it is true or not we can say only in the end of 2014.

So, both Android and iOS applications are quite secure, when the followers follow the security requirements.

Users` device security depends upon the security of the mobile OS. Having found breaches in the OS hackers can easily attack the device, even if users apply only high secure applications. Though being almost equal in security protection, the attack tactics is different.

In the next post we`ll discuss the operation systems’ security mechanisms.

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