Mac Users: Stop Being Smug About Security

4 Aug

Apple’s software, especially Safari, QuickTime, and its OS X have all exposed major security flaws to hackers over the years; the most recent being a major problem with its browser that was revealed last month. Still, Macintosh users worry less about security than Windows users do.

But for those Mac fans who also use iPhones, they should start worrying. A lot.

Part of Mac users’ sanguine attitude about security stems from the dearth of malware directed against the platform. Many take comfort in the “security through obscurity” argument, which contends Macs are safer because of a low market share, making them a less popular target for criminal hackers. Why send out your malware to attack 5% of the market when you can release it for the other 95%?

That happy situation for Mac users could be changing because of the iPhone. As recently reported, iPhone (and Android) apps contain malware that steals information on your handheld device. With literally hundreds of millions of these devices shipping annually, they make for a potential windfall for criminals. That’s because instead of stealing your contact list, which may just add to spam problems, these new apps will be ripping off your bank accounts.

The current Consumers & Convergence study released last month by KPMG shows a huge jump by consumers in their use of mobile devices to conduct financial transactions. That means they store bank and brokerage account and, likely, password information on their handhelds, making them ideal playgrounds for illegal exploits.

Further, Apple’s smartphone is becoming more deeply integrated into the OS X core. The company even delivers a single development toolset for both OS X and the iPhone, meaning a security flaw is more likely to affect both your Mac and your Apple cellphone.

This new and more dangerous security landscape makes it imperative for Mac users to let the scales fall from their eyes and see that their online world is just as scary as those who use Windows machines. They need to vet apps more critically before downloading them. They need to keep their software up to date. They need to invest in anti-virus tools. And they need to stop being smug when it comes to computer security.

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One Response to “Mac Users: Stop Being Smug About Security”

  1. Mister Reiner August 4, 2010 at 12:28 pm #

    Indeed.

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