updated 6/29/2011 12:19:18 PM ET 2011-06-29T16:19:18


Although they're by no means perfect, your iPhone or Android smartphone is more secure than your home PC, according to a new paper.

Written by the security firm Symantec, the 23-page paper found that the iPhone and Android operating systems were designed with built-in security features such as encryption, sandboxing and account lockout options, giving them a leg up on personal computers.

The paper evaluated how the two smartphone systems defend users from Web-based attacks and social engineering attacks, malware, data loss, data integrity threats and resource abuse.

The researchers found that Apple iOS devices edged out Android ones in terms of security, chiefly due to the way each handles third-party applications.

Google lets users install any application written for Android, no matter where it comes from, while Apple strictly controls what is admitted into the iTunes App Store.

Several rogue applications secretly containing malware have appeared both in Google's Android Market and in "off-road" Android app stores. No corresponding iOS malware programs are known to exist.

[How to Secure Your Home, Auto and Smartphone]

Mobile phones "raise the bar by leveraging techniques such as application isolation, provenance, encryption, and permission-based access control," the paper, "A Window Into Mobile Device Security," reads.

However, there are risks to carrying your computer in your pocket.

Because they were designed for consumers, mobile devices "have traded off their security to ensure usability to varying degrees," Symantec writes.

This usability includes the power to sync smartphones with third-party cloud services and home desktops. Moreover, many employees now use their high-powered smartphones to access and store sensitive corporate data, a practice that could expose "key enterprise assets in any number of insecure locations."

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