Apple marketing chief jabs Android security on Twitter

Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller takes to Twitter to take a not so subtle jab at the security of Google's Android platform.

Apple exec Phil Schiller.
Apple exec Phil Schiller. James Martin/CNET

Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller has been a semi-regular Twitter user since 2008, though mostly tweets about things like music, movies and sports.

But that changed earlier today with a post linking to F-Secure Labs' latest quarterly Mobile Threat report, with a casual mention to "be safe out there."

The 29-page report's (PDF) key finding is that malware on Google's Android is getting worse, in part because of the platform's brisk growth and a new variant of malware that spread using SMS.

"Android malware has been strengthening its position in the mobile threat scene," the report's executive summary said. "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."

Apple's iOS, Blackberry and Windows Mobile were also targets for malware threats, but were typically a part of broader, multi-platform attacks, the report said.

iOS has not been immune to security attacks, including recent exploits that allowed access to certain personal data through a secured lockscreen password. However it's been less prone to malware than rivals because there is no out of the box option to install software without going through Apple's App Store. Software that is submitted to Apple is scanned and goes through a human review before it goes live, a system designed to weed out malware.

That system is not perfect though. Last June, security firm Kaspersky Lab discovered an app called "Find & Call," that turned out to be a trojan that uploaded a user's contact list to its servers. The app was yanked from both Apple and Google's digital stores, but not before some users downloaded it.

Before the Find & Call incident, security researcher Charlie Miller published a proof of concept app that could grab unsigned code from third-party servers and add it to an app even after it was approved by Apple. Miller managed to slip it by Apple's security checks, though the move resulted in him getting his developer credentials revoked for a year.

Schiller is not the only Apple exec to take to Twitter, an unusual habit for the very secretive company. He's joined by iTunes, iCloud and App Store boss Eddy Cue, who has published 33 tweets since early 2007. Apple's former iOS software chief Scott Forstall meanwhile has not tweeted once since joining the service in mid-2010, and continues to follow only one other user -- comedian Conan O'Brien.


 

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