Malware is a worldwide interwebs scourge where nefarious entities create methods to attack computers. Any computer. Every computer.* Well, what about Mac, iPhone, and iPad? Those don’t get attacked, right?
*See above. Any computer. Every computer. Oh, and all the time. If your Mac, iPhone, or iPad are connected to the interwebs, then it is under attack from malware. Wait. What’s malware?
Ads Are Malware
Here’s the malware deal in a simple nutshell. Malware is bad. Malware is everywhere. Malware ranges from standard computer viruses to advertising.
Malware (a portmanteau for malicious software) is any software intentionally designed to cause damage to a computer, server, client, or computer network.
If you are connected to the interwebs then your device is already under attack. Someone, somewhere, somehow is working feverishly (in a digital sort of fever) to get into your Mac, iPhone, or iPad.
That’s the nature of the online world today, folks.
Malware does the damage after it is implanted or introduced in some way into a target’s computer and can take the form of executable code, scripts, active content, and other software.
That means your device can visit a website and be attacked and infected by some script that can cause some damage to your device; but the extent varies dramatically. Advertising, for example, usually just tracks where you go, who you are, and grabs data that is filtered, stored with other data.
No, malware is not a bug in your Mac, iPhone, or iPad software.
Malware has a malicious intent, acting against the interest of the computer user—and so does not include software that causes unintentional harm due to some deficiency, which is typically described as a software bug.
At the other end of the scale are formidable malware that can disable your device and hold it for a ransom to be paid to get back access, and malware like ZombieLoad which attacks the Intel chips Inside your Mac.
Alright, what can you do to prevent such malware from getting to your device? These items are simple to implement but not 100-percent effective.
Anti-virus – Macs have never had the same virus problems that Windows PC users experienced in the past, but viruses do exist as part of malware, and even the Mac App Store has a few anti-virus apps that can even find malware that might be stuck as an attachment in an email message you received.
Browse Carefully – This is part of Think Different™. Nefarious websites can pour all kinds of malware onto Safari with little more than a visit. Avoid websites that offer crazy-assed free items and bounce your browser around to different sites without a click.
Updates – Apple is the best hardware vendor at updating their devices with security patches, new features, and improvements. So, keep your Mac, iPhone, and iPad updated.
Learn Anti-Phishing – Phishing is a problem. There are tools to help, including a good one from Jony Evans which also lists some of Apple’s built-in options to minimize malware.
Do these options apply to iPhone and iPad, too?
Generally, yes. iOS does not have typical viruses to worry about, but you still get tracked while online, so anti-trackers and ad blockers will be useful. Apple does a good job protecting iPhone and iPad users, but dangers exist.
Malware will never go away. You will always be under attack. So, be aware, take proper precautions, and remember this is one good reason to live in a Walled Garden ecosystem with Disneyesque considerations.