Malware is a broad term which covers everything from spam to viruses to worms to phishing attacks, and powers most of the world’s botnets. Where does most malware reside? Windows PCs and Android smartphones.
What about the Mac? What about iPhone and iPad?
Count your blessings that you live in a non-Windows, non-Android world because nearly 90-percent of the planet’s malware shows up on non-Apple devices. Have you noticed a dip in spam recently? That might be due to the F.B.I. cracking down on a giant Windows PC-based botnet that was used to spread spam and malware.
a network of private computers infected with malicious software and controlled as a group without the owners’ knowledge, e.g., to send spam messages.
As botnets go, this one– the Kelihos botnet– was a big fish, responsible for distributing spam, ransomeware, and malware all over the world, and harvesting usernames and passwords from unsuspecting users.
That’s the key phrase to remember. Those Windows PC users were unaware that their machines were being used in a giant botnet which distributed malware all over the world. Who was running the botnet? The U.S. Justice Department thinks Kelihos was managed by hackers in Russia.
Here’s the problem. Botnets are everywhere, and the number of devices we own that are connected to the interwebs is growing at an alarming rate. All of those devices have vulnerabilities, and many get exploited, some before before the ship to a customer.
That Apple walled garden and curated ecosystem is looking pretty good these days, no?
What can you do? Other than managing passwords appropriately, and staying within Apple’s walled garden, not much. That’s because every device you buy– Macs and iPhones, Windows PCs and Android smartphones, and anything else that connects to the interwebs– comes with vulnerabilities. And once they’re turned into exploits, you may never know your device has been compromised.
Critics howled that apps for iPhones and iPad have to be accepted by Apple before distribution. That gives Apple time to review an app and determine how well it conforms to the company’s best practices, and whether or not it phones home. Such apps are prohibited from gathering certain information from your device. The Mac App Store works in much the same way, but the Mac itself remains an open field, ripe for malware.
Is your Mac safe and secure?
Yes. And no. It depends. That’s about as honest an answer as you can get. Generally speaking, Macs are safer than Windows PCs from botnets, viruses, and most malware, but not from phishing attempts which aim for the user to divulge personal information in an email message or a pop up message on the screen.
Still, that walled garden is looking rather Disneyesque these days, is it not?