Much of the industry has waged and is waging a day-to-day war against malware on Windows PCs and notebooks, on Android-based smartphones and tablets, and against an infestation of hackers intent upon separating you from your money. How does all this impact you, the Mac owner?
Security Through Obscurity?
One sure fire way to tell the tale of the industry is to check the number of malware detection or anti-virus applications for each.
Check Google Play for Android devices and you’ll find plenty of such apps. Why? About 98-percent of all mobile malware apps thrive on Android devices.
Check any Windows website that sells applications and you’ll find a burgeoning industry of snake oil salesmen pushing malware detection, anti-virus apps, and security utilities for Windows PCs.
Alright, check the App Store for iPhone and iPad and the Mac App Store.
Only the latter carries a few malware detection or anti-virus apps, most are free or cost a few dollars, and since there are few exploits in the wild for OS X, their claim to fame is to cleanse Windows files which might reside on a Mac as an email attachment.
I counted less than a dozen such utilities on the Mac App Store, and most of those listed on the iOS App Store are malware-like scams themselves which provide little value to the customer or device, instead preying on the gullibility of the user.
Over the years I’ve converted many friends, co-workers, and neighbors to the Mac. A few insist on having some kind of malware or anti-virus app for their Mac, despite the minimal problems we experience.
For them, I always recommend the free ClamXav, a good virus checker that won’t see much action on a Mac, but helps to calm the nerves of recent switchers.
Obscurity Means Security?
Finally, let’s clobber the security through obscurity issue once and for all. Common wisdom claims that malware and virus developers target Windows PCs and Android devices because their marketshare is much higher.
The number of Macs running in the world is pushing 75-million, and the number of iOS devices– iPhone and iPad– numbers nearly 500-million. And most of those owners are affluent, those less gullible than their off-brand brethren. Are those targets not worth targeting? Why haven’t malware makers had much success on either platform?
First, fewer exploits exist, and both platforms are curated more which means it’s a substantially more difficult a target to hit and propagate malware. ClamXav might find some malware on your Mac, but it’s the one free security app you’ll use that doesn’t have much to do.