How safe is your MAC?

How safe is your MAC?

by Tinder Corp Media, 24th January 2018

“I love my MAC, it doesn’t get viruses like a PC” sound familiar? That’s the vaguely smug call of the Apple user who knows that, in addition to being the dog’s doodahs when it comes to creative software, their computer is also far less likely to suffer malicious intrusion from the pirates of the online world.

So far this claim to cyber supremacy is actually pretty well substantiated, but why is that? Partly it’s because of the way MACs are made – the operating system is based on the Berkley Software Distribution (BSD) of Unix, which is well known for being a simpler, more secure system than that of a Windows platform. However, a big part of the reason that MACs are historically safer from attack is that hackers simply haven’t deemed such attacks to be worthwhile.

Professor Alan Woodward, an expert IT advisor to the government, notes that PCs are attacked more regularly because there are more of them.[1] Until a few years ago over 80% of home computers ran Windows and, as malware works on the principle that ‘the bigger the target the bigger the payoff’ it was simply more effective for hackers to go after PCs.

However, with the recent surge in MAC ownership, certain unscrupulous individuals are turning their attention towards Apple’s often complacent owners. The problem faced by MAC users now is that anti-virus software has never been top of the priority list as it is for Windows users. The latest research by Sophos suggests that 20% of MAC users may be harbouring malware, with many being completely unaware that there’s anything wrong until it’s too late.

Feeling slightly less smug now? Well don’t worry too much because the important point here is that much of the malware on MACs is actually Windows malware. That is to say it won’t harm your MAC, but it will cause chaos if transmitted to a PC. These infections arrive via the usual suspects: dodgy emails, risky links etc and will hitch a lift on your outgoing communications to the next available Windows user. Basically, if you have Windows malware on your PC you’re the cyber equivalent of the kid who comes to school with a bit of a sore throat, then passes on the flu’ to every other student.

Even worse than being a malware carrier is the prospect that you could be susceptible to MAC OS X malware, aka the really nasty stuff. Flashback botnet malware (or Flshplyr) will give criminals easy access to your system and, without anti-virus to pick up on it; you could be a sitting duck.

So what’s the answer? Quite simply: RUN AN ANTI VIRUS PROGRAM. Make sure your anti-virus is up to date. Don’t open emails if you’re not sure of their origins and do not click on that dodgy link…no matter how tempting.

[1] https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2012/04/10/macs-safer-than-pcs/ accessed 21st Jan 2018