Google’s Android mobile operating system has 47 times more malware than iOS, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Cook recently gave a remote interview at the VivaTech conference on topics like privacy and security.
Apple has been criticised for its “walled garden” approach to its ecosystem, which forces users to download apps, perform in-app purchases, and sign up for subscriptions via Apple’s own App Store.
A proposed European law called the Digital Markets Act (DMA) could change this.
The legislation seeks to prevent big tech companies from monopolising their market positions and would force Apple to allow its users to install apps from other sources.
Apple is opposed to this, and Cook has maintained that the company’s approach was in the best for protecting its users from cyber threats.
The CEO said that Google allowing Android users to side-load apps from other sources on the web was the primary reason for the proliferation of malicious software in its ecosystem.
“I would say [side-loading] would damage both privacy and security. I mean, you look at malware as an example, and Android has 47 times more malware than iOS,” Cook stated.
By contrast, Apple analysed all submitted apps for any security threats prior to being added to the App Store, the only place from which they can be downloaded unless a user jailbreaks their iPhone.
“That keeps a lot of this malware stuff out of our ecosystem,” Cook said.
According to Cook, Apple customers continuously said they valued that.
“We’re going to be standing up for the user in the discussions and we’ll see where it goes,” Cook said. “I’m optimistic, and I think most people know that security is a major risk.”
Impact of third-party installs on MacOS
Cook’s take on the security problems due to side-loading is perhaps best supported by the company’s own experience on its desktop operating system, which does allow for installing third-party software.
During the court hearings on Epic Games’ lawsuit against Apple, the company’s software boss Craig Federigh testified that Apple was not happy about the amount of malware on MacOS.
“Today, we have a level of malware on the Mac that we don’t find acceptable and that is much worse than iOS,” Federighi stated
“For iOS, we aspired to create something far more secure. All indications are that we have succeeded in doing so.”
Federighi stated Apple had discovered and removed around 130 different kinds of malware on Macs in 2020, compared to just three types that had infected iPhones.