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Rahul Thadani
Your Apple Mac does not need computer security: Myth or not?
January 23, 2013

Your Apple Mac does not need computer security

There is a widespread misconception in the mainstream computing market that Apple Macs are more secure than Windows machines. In fact, some staunch Apple lovers even feel that since virus threats for Macs do not exist, no system protection software is essential. But how accurate is this belief?
Our expertise in the computer security industry shows us that Macs are not immune from malicious software and viruses under any circumstances. The fact that Windows machines constitute around 90% of the PCs in the world means that malware authors target Windows with greater intensity. Malware development requires considerable resources and time so it is inevitable that a platform which is used more widely will be targeted more. Unfortunately, fewer numbers of Mac users has led to the false assumption that Macs are completely secure and invincible.

Mac goes mainstream: Malware inevitably follows
In the last few years several cases of Mac malware have been discovered. The most infamous discovery was the Flashback malware which infected more than half a million Macs all over the world thanks to yet another Java security hole. Moreover, Forrester Research claims that there has been a 52% increase in Mac numbers in 2012. This rise in usage is not just restricted to home users; many businesses and government institutions have also adopted Mac as their platform of choice.

The growth in market share of Macs all around the world has led to the realization that security threats do exist for this platform. Additionally, malware authors have also realized that developing for the Mac platform is not worthless and can pay off. Naturally, as the platform goes mainstream, more users will be targeted by social engineering tricks and be susceptible to malware threats.

Apple releases ‘Gatekeeper’ but user habits persist

For many years, Apple propagated the notion that Macs are more secure than Windows as a selling point. However, now that the number of Mac users has increased over time Apple has now changed its tune. Now, Apple incorporates a feature known as Gatekeeper in Mac OS X Mountain Lion which regulates the sources from where a Mac user can install apps from. This implies that Apple has also realized the importance of malware security over their platform.

Gatekeeper
Importantly, most security threats arise due to user negligence and habits regarding malicious documents, websites, USB drives, torrent downloads and email attachments. Apple also releases security patches from time to time but a lot of users neglect these as they are under the assumption that the patches are not required. Some users also stick to older OS versions due to hardware constraints and increase their vulnerability as a result.

Breaking down the myth of Mac invulnerability
The truth is that Mac OS X is targeted less by attackers because it is not as widespread as Windows; not because it is more secure. In the case of phishing, the vulnerability usually lies with the user and not with the machine. Even the iTunes App Store is not completely secure. If you thought the browser, Safari, is more secure than Internet Explorer then you would be wrong. As far back as 2009, 94 threats were found in Safari compared to 41 in IE. Data found in 2012 showed that about 1 in 5 Macs has at least one strain of malware present. Also, about 1 in 36 Macs has serious OS X based malware.

Apple Mac
It has also been said that Mac security is a good 10 years behind that of Windows. This is understandable since Windows security has been functional for many years now and is well versed with malware codes and programs. Apple needs to master the recognition of malware codes and also work on improving its update cycles.

The underlying point here is that if you are an owner of an Apple Mac, then you need to start taking web security more seriously. For far too long it has been widely believed that Macs are invincible and immune from security threats, but this myth has slowly broken. So are you willing to disbelieve the myth or not?

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Rahul Thadani
About Rahul Thadani
Rahul is a web enthusiast and blogger, and has been writing about the computer security industry for the last three years. Following the latest technology trends,...
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25 Comments

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  1. santanu duttJanuary 24, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    i am not using apple. however this is a great information. thank you.

    Reply
  2. Pardeep KumarJanuary 24, 2013 at 4:08 PM

    this is a big news for the mac users. i dont knew about that, this is great knowledge for me

    Reply
  3. bhanu prasadJanuary 24, 2013 at 4:18 PM

    Apple is so far from me. when ever i use may be use it .thanks

    Reply
  4. thanks about this info. but iam not using any of this 🙂

    Reply
  5. i m not using apple.tanks for information.thanks

    Reply
  6. Biswajit SarkarJanuary 25, 2013 at 7:58 AM

    Thank you for this information.But I am not using apple till now.

    Reply
  7. You are actually saying two thins here:
    – Mac is not safer than Windows
    – Mac is becoming more at risk

    I agree on the second part, although there’s absolutely NO comparing between infections/hacks of Windows and OSX boxes. Macs being massively targeted is in fact a myth.

    The first part however: Mac is, and has always been one or more steps ahead of Windows, when it comes to security, from Win95 to Win8. The best example of this is signed apps on OSX. This is where Microsoft doesn’t take any responsibility, purely because of commercial reasons. Any type of security annoyance does not sell well…

    Reply
  8. I am not using APPLE . Thanks for information.

    Reply
  9. Thanks about this info. but iam not using this mac apple

    Reply
  10. sangram dasJanuary 26, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    i m using

    Reply
  11. am unable to scan the pen drive ,pen drive having rives name of copy

    Reply
  12. rajnish kumarJanuary 26, 2013 at 9:40 PM

    this is information big information i dont know about mac thankyou

    Reply
  13. I am not using apple. Thank you.I dont knew about that, this is great knowledge for me.However this is a great information.

    Reply
  14. Thanks alot rahul for clarifying a Myth….!!!!!

    Reply
  15. Thanks allot Rahul for this information and clarifying the doubts.

    Reply
  16. how to secure an ipad which does not have cd rom

    Reply
    • Hi Amit,
      It is not feasible to have a CD drive to secure a mobile device. Such devices are secured through programs which are found in their corresponding application markets.
      Regards.

      Reply
  17. is linux is safe from hacker and virus?

    Reply
  18. How did you get this info ?
    Also how do you say “Mac security is a good 10 years behind that of Windows” ?
    If Mac doesn’t have a proper security then why doesn’t Mac offer its own Anti-Virus / Why Anit-Virus are not made for Mac as how its made for Windows ?

    Reply
    • Hi K K V,
      All your questions are answered in the post itself. Apple does offer some degree of protection but it is not enough as more advanced threats are now reaching the Mac platform. More antivirus products are made for Windows because there are a much larger number of Windows users all around the world.
      Regards.

      Reply
  19. Hi,
    I thought Mac was safer. Till this day i hear the same thing and Apple says it too, Mac doesn’t infects by PC virus. But i was not 100% sure. Thanks for clarifying.

    Reply