Talk about being the victim of your own success. For the longest time, Apple and its huge fan base were able to take a lot of comfort in the fact that Apple products were more secure than Windows products. For the longest time, that was true. Most of the spyware, viruses and nasty malware written in the world targeted Windows machines. However, it was obvious to many tech observers and industry observers that Apple was patting itself on the back pretty much for its marketing failure. The simple truth is because it commanded such a commercially insignificant segment of the market, it was not financially worth it for cybercriminals, hacking groups and malware authors to devote the time, money and other resources to code malware targeting Apple products. That was then, this is now.
In the post iPhone, iPod and iPad world, the Apple brand has truly exploded and there is a halo effect among consumers buying Apple products. For example, somebody buying an iPod would be so enamored with the Apple product that they would then turn to Apple when it is time to buy a computer or to buy a tablet. The same dynamic plays out when somebody starts out with an iPad or an iPhone. You get the drill. This has gone a long way to boosting to Apple’s sales of devices. That is why it is no surprise that Apple recently decided to tone down its security claims on its “why you love a Mac” website. Mac marketing, it turns out, has become the latest casualty of Apple success.
For the longest time, Apple would claim that “we don’t get PC viruses” because the truth of the matter is due to its increased brand awareness and its larger share of the market, Macs are now a fair target, at least from return on investment perspective, for malware authors and hacking groups. Indeed the security issues that Apple recently ran into would seem scary to Apple fans and users that are not used to security issues. For example, Mac Defender was a trojan horse program that hit a lot of users and caused Apple’s previously relatively comparatively underused technical support lines to light up. Of course, this was followed by the more famous security issue that Apple ran into called Flashback. This was a particularly nasty piece of work that used a trojan initially to trick Mac users into downloading and installing it. It then graduated into a full-blown security nightmare when it started to automatically infect Mac machines through an attack site. This was done via vulnerability in an unpatched Java flaw found in Mac OSX. While they pale in comparison to the wave after wave of malware trojans, spyware and virus issues plaguing Windows machines, these recent security issues have shaken Apple’s confidence in its old claim of “we don’t get PC viruses.”
As a result, Apple has decided to step down the security language on its Mac web page down a notch to “it’s built to be safe.” Welcome to a more dangerous world, Mac users! Indeed, as we have written earlier, because of the repeated waves of vulnerability attacks and other security issues that periodically hit Windows machine, Apple could learn a thing or two from Microsoft in terms of how to proactively send out security updates and also automatic patching.