Why aren’t computer-viruses as common on cell phones as they are on PCs?

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Why aren’t computer-viruses as common on cell phones as they are on PCs?

In: Technology
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Frankly, I think it’s because of Windows.

Android and iOS devices run on Linux/UNIX. These operating systems are much, much more secure than Windows.

Windows still runs on some very old code that was originally written in the 80s and 90s. To this day, there are ways of breaking into Windows systems that haven’t been addressed for decades. For example, when booting into safe mode, it is possible to replace the on-screen keyboard app with a copy of Command Prompt in Windows’ files. When you boot the machine normally, you can access the “on-screen keyboard” without logging in. Now that you’ve replaced it with Command Prompt, you have direct access to enable the default administrator account and get in without ever cracking the owner’s account. This method of bypassing Windows security has existed for as long as I can remember. It’s shockingly bad.

Phones tend to have better security that computers. Our entire lives on our phones. Also, phones like iPhone’s biggest thing is virus protection. You really have to mess up to get a virus on Apple device. Android keeps increasing their protection but they still get hacked or get viruses. They run on Linux which is pretty good at keeping you safe.

There’s a few reasons.

The first, and most obvious is that most software is installed through an App Store now which (in theory) vets the submitted code. Things do slip through, but it’s not as common now.

However, the biggest element is that computers as a whole are just more secure now. Things like (good) virus detection being built into an OS standard and into web browsers, better practices (such as how Microsoft Office handles Macros), and other bits (Like MacOS’s ability to block non signed apps), just combine to make computers harder to infect for the average person.

Of course the underlying code has been improved too.

But, it’s important to note that viruses are a threat on mobiles.

They are really common on phones. Like terrifyingly so. There have been a lot of malware takedowns over the years on both the iOS store and the Play Store for apps that have been installed millions or tens of millions of times. You can also get malware installed from just browsing web pages. There have been cases where just receiving a text could install malware on your phone. The thing is that in pretty much all of these cases the malware is designed to hide itself. So you don’t know it’s there. They usually just want to track you. Sometimes they make you send spam texts. Or fake adclicks to a specific developer. Or mine crypto. Or just steal all your private data or bank accounts. Or just sit there waiting for instructions. And they usually go through insane lengths to stay hidden. Some have been mass installed by millions and only seemed to target a handful of people.

This problem is WAY worse for devices that don’t get security updates anymore. As in the absolutely mind boggling number of old Android devices out there that haven’t received any security patches for years. Most of the users of these devices don’t even know they’ve been compromised because at the end of the day most of the malware wants to stay hidden as much as possible.