Android versus Apple iOS online security for gamblers

Posted in Meccabingo Meccabingo tips | 18th November 2019

Close-up shot of App Store and Google Play download buttons

Mobile devices have brought dramatic changes to the gambling industry in recent years. Now you can play slots online or enjoy your favourite bingo games no matter where you are. The security of your mobile phone or tablet is crucial to your ongoing enjoyment of games. So, let’s find out which is more secure: Android or Apple operating systems.  

Getting to grips with your operating system

An Apple mobile device is run by an iOS operating system while most other devices use Android. The latest research suggests that 74% of phones use Android and 21% of phones in use run on Apple’s iOS system, with Windows phones bringing up the rear at just 4%.

Why is this significant when discussing which is the better phone to help you stay safe online? These statistics tell us more than which operating system is the most popular. Devices that run the Android operating system are more likely to be targeted by hackers for three main reasons:

  1. Android has an open-source system called “Android Open Source Project” or AOSP which allows developers to use the source code to build custom operating systems that are compatible with AOSP. This means your phone’s code may have more vulnerabilities as well as allowing the original software restrictions installed by the manufacturer of the device to be removed in order to install unauthorised programs. Google in the meantime is offering various sums of money, or “bounties,” to independent security researchers for identifying vulnerabilities in the Android OS. Apple’s source code, on the other hand, is a closely guarded secret.
  1. The proliferation of Android devices makes this system more attractive to hacks. Malware written for Android is likely to bring the greatest reward for hackers by targeting the most used OS in order to steal information from the widest possible user base. Whereas Apple, Windows Mobile and Blackberry are rarely targeted because the number of users, just 25% of the market, does not make the effort of creating malware worth it. If you regularly play online bingo or another popular game on an Android device, there is good news. The popularity of Android and its open marketplace gives you a wider choice of security apps you can download to increase your safety online.
  1. While the built-in security features for Apple and Android are similar (both use “virtual sandboxes” to limit damage by malware apps), iOS drive encryption is standard when you buy an Apple device, whereas Android users must activate this feature themselves.

Android vs Apple: how to stay safe online

Whether you use an Android or Apple operating system to indulge in your favourite games, there are a number of actions you can take today to keep your money and identity where they belong.

Update your OS regularly

Phone screen showing apple software being updated

One of the most important things you can do is to regularly update your OS to keep your devices secure. This is easier with iOS devices thanks to Apple’s tight control of its ecosystem. But the sheer number of different devices that use the Android system makes it more difficult to keep operating systems updated. Also, because Android devices are sold by multiple manufacturers, it makes the distribution of an update more difficult to roll out. Four months after Android released its 9 (Pie) OS update in August 2018, it had an upload rate of less than 0.2%.

A bit of good news for Android users, is that Google has insisted that smartphone manufacturers rectify any malware vulnerabilities in software no later than 90 days after they have been discovered.

The point is that both iOS and Android update their operating systems regularly so when those updates come along, make sure you download them. An updated OS makes it much harder for hackers to access your phone or tablet.

Install anti-virus software

You probably already install or update your computer’s antivirus software and make sure your firewall settings are in place. But do you do the same for your Android tablet or phone? (As we’ve seen, Apple is so rarely targeted that it’s unlikely you’d need antivirus software although you could still have a look at trusted antivirus apps for iOS.) For Android, the easiest way to stay safe from most viruses, worms and Trojans, is to do a bit of research around the best antivirus apps for Android. Most of these are free to download and easy to set up. Some of the best antivirus apps include Avast Mobile Security, Bitdefender Antivirus Free, AVG, McAfee Security & Power Booster Free, Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus and Norton Security and Antivirus.

Be cautious when downloading apps

hand holding an infected 3d generated smartphone

Get into the habit of being cautious when downloading apps from third-party app stores, whether you are the owner of an iOS or Android-run phone. You are typically safest downloading vetted apps from the Google Play and the Apple App Store. But keep in mind that just because an app is on Google Play does not automatically make it safe. Android’s open Play Store means you have a wider selection of apps to choose from than on the Apple App Store, but the vast number of apps makes it easier for hackers to distribute malware in this way.  

Check you’re on a legit gambling site

Your first step to staying safe while you play slots or any of your favourite online games is to find out if the website you’ll be gambling with is licensed. Good bingo sites are always Gambling Commission licensed businesses, which means you are protected by the gambling and consumer protection rules of Great Britain. How do you know if a site is legit? A licensed gambling business will always give a link to the licence register that has information about the types of activities that site is allowed to offer as well as any regulatory action that may have been taken against the business. You can also check the homepage for the licensing jurisdiction logo, and valid auditing and security certificates.

Look out for criminal syndicates that present themselves as authorised gambling businesses, when they are really in the business of trying to steal your identity or take your money. The easiest way to make sure you aren’t about to be scammed is to ensure the site you’ll be playing on is licensed with the Gambling Commission.

Don’t be your own worst enemy

You could have the latest iOS update or the best Android antivirus software on the market but still fall victim to a phishing scam. These schemes are all about getting you to part with personal information in order to steal your identity or access your accounts. So, never respond to requests for log-in information, your banking details or any other personal information online.

The same goes for email links and attachments. Never click on these unless you are sure where they have come from. Get into the habit of thinking before you click or hit the “send” button. In the same way, you would never open your front door to a stranger before asking a few questions, make sure you trust the source before clicking on any links.

One of the best ways to keep your personal information safe is to use a VPN or Virtual Private Network to keep your mobile device out of the hands of hackers. A secure VPN allows you to send banking and credit card details as well as personal information in relative safety over unsecured Internet servers.

Mobile security improving all the time

Businessman hand working with VR screen padlock icon

It seems the quick answer to the question of whether Android versus Apple is safer for gambling online is that, for now, Apple mobile devices are the safer bet. But as we’ve seen, staying out of the reach of cybercriminals can be complicated, with scary threats around every corner as well as a number of effective actions you can take to keep safe while connected.

Both Android and Apple are hard at work making our devices safer with exciting features in the offing like Apple’s facial scanner on their iPhone X, which makes it almost impossible for anyone other than yourself to open your phone. You can only benefit from keeping up to date with the latest developments.

Whether your mobile device of choice has an Android or Apple operating system, there really is no reason to give up your favourite games. When you play bingo with Mecca Bingo, you’re in safe hands. Your privacy and security is our number one priority and we protect your account with market-leading security technology. This makes us one of the safest online bingo sites to play on. So update your OS, install a trusted free antivirus app and join us now for a world of online casino games, online scratchcards, bingo and more!

We’re here to help you keep it fun – remember to set your deposit limit. Click here for more details on the safer gambling tools available including reality checks and the ability to take a break from your gaming.