Pando

iOS 8's success is one of the few things Apple has done right with its security

By Nathaniel Mott , written on September 23, 2014

From The News Desk

Apple has revealed via its App Store Distribution page that some 46 percent of iOS devices have been updated to the latest version of its mobile operating system just five days after it debuted.

While that figure might be slightly misleading because it's based on devices that have connected to the App Store since iOS 8 was released last week, it's still a good reminder of just how quickly iPhone and iPad owners update their device's software. With all the security improvements that come bundled alongside other, more exciting features, that's good for Apple and its customers.

Failing to update a device to a newer operating system leaves it open to all kinds of problems. Perhaps no one knows this better than Android users, many of whom are unable to update to the latest version of Google's software because of the complicated relationship between their wireless provider, the company that made their smartphone, and a forgotten god of mischief.

Google makes this failing clear in its own software distribution page, which shows that around 75 percent of Android users are using older versions of the operating system. (That number is likely to be higher, because it only counts devices which have connected to Google's Play Store.) This isn't just bad for consumers who miss out on new features -- it's also bad for their security.

Many companies scrambled to update their security after the all-but-forgotten Heartbleed bug that left some two-thirds of the Internet insecure was revealed earlier this year. The problem is that many devices, from out-of-date routers to un-updated Android smartphones, can still be attacked via the vulnerability because their creators haven't bothered to patch them up.

All of which means that one of Apple's greatest security features has little to do with security itself and more to do with its relentless drive to make sure as many customers as possible can update to newer versions of its operating systems, even if things are a little bumpy at first or it seems like older devices are crippled by new software features right when new devices debut.

Apple's problem with implementing basic security tools in its operating systems and websites, combined with its not-so-transparent look at the security features built into iOS 8, make this willingness by its customers to update its greatest advantage. Hell, since many of them aren't even bothering to read the change logs, most probably didn't know they were insecure in the first place.