iOS users beware: Myth of Apple security invulnerability is just that – The Star Online

Windows computers are prone to viruses, while iOS is a safe haven: Apple users like to believe their operating systems are virus-proof. But MacBooks and iPhones also come with weaknesses and the myth of their invulnerability is perhaps the biggest danger.

The common belief is that while Windows users have to deal with viruses, worms, and Trojans, Mac and iPhone users don't have to worry because Apple's devices are invulnerable to security threats.

In fact it's not really true anymore because there's been a rapid increase in the amount of malware targeting Apple in recent years.

The security of the macOS and iOS operating systems has always been based on a simple principle: the systems are closed and Apple specifies which hardware and software can be used with them.

Microsoft Windows and Android, Google's operating system for mobile devices, on the other hand, follow an open approach. That means that anyone can configure those systems themselves or develop and distribute software for them.

This approach means more freedom but also more risk. Windows and Android keep the gates a little bit open, which can mean that threats sometimes get in, while Apple users are protected behind high walls, at least in theory.

In reality those walls have gaps too. In 2017 a serious security vulnerability was discovered in the High Sierra version of macOS that made it easy for anyone to gain admin access, even if they didn't have programming knowledge or special software.

As well as the security of a closed system, Mac users in the past could rely on another advantage: cybercriminals focused on Windows.

"Macs have always also been vulnerable, but Windows was the easier and bigger target," says Kai Schwirzke from Mac & i magazine.

Because Windows computers were so much more common than Macs, that platform offered criminals a lot more potential victims.

However, with Macs now having an increased market share they've become a more attractive cyber-crime target.

"We have found that targeted attacks against macOS are increasingly being carried out," Schwirzke says.

In its 2019 annual report, the US anti-malware manufacturer Malwarebytes identified an increase in threats to Mac systems of more than 400% compared to the previous year.

According to the security experts, the integrated security systems of macOS are particularly blind to adware.

Adware not only displays advertisements and often transmits user data, but can also serve as a gateway for attacks.

Downloading apps only from Apple's App Store is also no cast-iron guarantee of security.

With the millions of lines of code in the apps that have to be checked by the App Store, it is impossible to rule out the possibility of malicious code slipping through unnoticed," Schwirzke says.

He recommends that you pay close attention to the permissions you grant an iPhone app. For example, a recipes app doesn't need access to your phone's address book or microphone.

Possibly the biggest danger is the Apple myth itself. In the belief that macOS and iOS are invulnerable, Apple users are often careless.

"The same applies to Apple as to other manufacturers: The biggest weak point is people," warns Internet security specialist David Bothe.

Phishing emails in particular pose a risk and are now being tailored specifically for Apple users.

In 2019 Germany's Federal Office for Information Security warned of an email that pretended to come from Apple Support. A blackmail trojan was hidden in a link inside the message.

Bothe advises Apple users to maintain a healthy dose of scepticism.

"Emails with calls for action should always be critically examined. Do not click on links if you're not one hundred per cent sure," he says. In addition, you shouldn't open email attachments from strangers. dpa

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iOS users beware: Myth of Apple security invulnerability is just that - The Star Online

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