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Are Apple Products Really More Secure Than Others?

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One myth I am always being asked by parents is, “Do I really need to protect my apple devices – I thought they were more secure than others?

I have no idea where this myth originates but it seems to be lingering! The short answer is this. You do still need to protect your Apple devices, absolutely.

Let’s look at this in a little bit more detail to understand what protection is required and for which devices.

What protection do you need for your Apple devices?

Apple Laptops & PCs

Laptops and PCs such as the macbook all run on an operating system called ‘macOS’. Some people believe that there is no malware out there that can infect a macOS system. This is a complete fallacy. It stems from the fact that the global Windows market is considerably bigger than the Apple macOS market. People believe that cyber criminals target only the dominating operating system - Windows serves nearly 90% of the world whereas macOS less than 10%. Even so, this is still a myth and threats to mac users are out there in their droves and they’re only increasing.

Cyber criminals know that a lot of mac users can be senior executives or wealthy middle to upper class consumers (simply due to the price point of the products). What’s more, as Apple focuses on targeting the roll-out of it’s products to big businesses as well as consumer, this is also causing a drastic increase in cyber criminals focusing more and more on Apple products.

A recent survey conducted by ESET found that while both PC and Mac users perceive the Mac as being more secure, Mac users are victims of cybercrime just as much as PC users! According to MalwareBytes, malware attacks on Macs climbed 270% last year !

The bottom line is this...there is highly specific macOS malware out there that has been designed specifically to infect macOS and without an anti-virus it will infect your machine.

iPhones & iPads

Apple mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPad actually run on a completely different operating system to apple’s laptops and PCs. They run on something called iOS. iOS is fortunately a different story to macOS. iOS is actually the only operating system that you don’t need to have an anti-virus program or app installed on! Macbooks, windows, android users all need to have an anti-virus program. Why is this? macOS is designed completely differently to iOS and iOS is by its very design more resilient to malware than other operating systems due to the ‘sandboxing technology’ that Apple iOS devices use.

Actually, you can make an iOS device like an iPhone and iPad more vulnerable by trying to install an antivirus app onto it as the antivirus software could become the target of attack !! This is because in order for the anti-virus to do its job, it needs ‘hooks’ into the operating system in order to perform the deep monitoring they do to detect malware. As security is at the heart of the iOS operating system, iOS devices don’t permit this kind of access to any kind of app, including anti-virus apps! This doesn’t mean that iOS is impenetrable, far from it, but it does mean it is more difficult for malware to spread across it compared to other platforms. So, the best security for an iOS device such as an iPad or iPhone is actually the in-built security of the device itself!

So, if you do only own iOS devices, then all you need do is ensure you install the iOS system updates as soon as you’re prompted to as these contain important security fixes. Apple Macs however use a different operating system to iOS called MacOS. Much like other platforms like Android and Windows, these have known vulnerabilities which need an anti-virus to protect it.

Other (Non-Apple) Mobile Devices

If you anything other than an iOS device (such as an Android mobile phone, a windows laptop, etc.) I’m afraid you’ll need an anti-virus app on it. I’d recommend Norton Security and Antivirus. It has a strong malware monitoring capability, if you opt for the paid version it’ll cover up to 10 devices (great for families), has an ‘App Advisor’ for Google Play app store to ensure you’re only downloading safe apps and has a well-designed user interface (Free).

OK, so what the answer to this age old question of whether Apple devices are more secure than others? I’d say this, neither is more secure than the other but Apple does make security more accessible and user friendly than other platforms. For example;

  • Apple’s default password manager KeyChain Access
  • It’s integrated fingerprint recognition not just into it’s mobiles but now into their latest macbook laptops
  • The third party assurance process surrounding the Apple Appstore
  • The fact that you don’t need to install anti-virus on iPhones and iPads
  • Every macbook comes with FileVault device encryption as standard
  • Password by default protects changes to system configurations

None of these features are exclusive to Apple products and other devices can certainly have them but Apple include them as standard (you might just have to turn them on). Whilst security cannot yet be considered easy for the end user, they at least make it slightly easier.

Hopefully that helps to abate some of myths surrounding Apple products and them being more secure than others. Check out the Protection Plans at www.simplecyberlife.com to find out what other protection you might need to protect your family.

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