Mac and Windows PC users will each claim they have the superior operating system (OS), but when it comes to security there aren't as many differences as you would think.
Many Mac users are under the illusion that they are immune to the malware, trojans, and viruses that Windows users are susceptible to.
The advertising for Mac gives the wrong impression
Ads like these have created a misconception that Mac users don't need to worry about security, but as Lysa Myers, the senior Security Analyst for the Mac security software company, Intego, says, "As far as attackers are concerned, Macs and PCs are the same: it's a computer" And there is no such thing as a totally safe computer; as long as a hacker can find your computer, they can hack into it.
So why does it seem like there are never any stories about Macs getting hacked? Why do PCs always seem to be the target of any large scale cyber-attacks?
In the past, hackers have not really bothered with Mac computers simply because there weren't enough of them around. Even the latest numbers from NetMarketShare show that Macs still don't even represent ten percent of global market share for desktop computers. With so few Macs out there, it's just not economical for hackers to target them.
Windows PCs control the desktop computer market
And since Windows has dominated the market share for so long, there is a greater infrastructure built around hacking PCs. As Stefan Savage, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of California, San Diego says, "there is an established ecosystem around Windows that really helps reinforce that platform's dominance [as a target], including malware-writing tools, markets to buy and sell malware, infrastructure to deploy malware and lots of open-source information on new exploitation techniques. It takes time to build that kind of community."
However, as Apple's market share continues to grow, and Macs are used by bigger institutions, they will become more lucrative for hackers.
Recently, Mac users got a glimpse into the vulnerabilities of their OS when Palo Alto detected that the Bittorrent client, 'Transmission,' was infected with ransomware targeting Mac users. Any Mac users who downloaded the app also got the malicious software (or malware), named 'KeRanger' which seems to be the first successful ransomware attack on Mac OS.
Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts files on a computer and locks them from being opened or accessed until a certain amount of money is paid to the hackers. In this case, the hackers demanded the victims pay one bitcoin (around $400) in order to get the encryption key, which would unlock their files.
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