Are Mac Users Living with a False Sense of Security?

Owners of Macs often believe that they are less vulnerable when it comes to cyberthreats such as malware and viruses. I find myself engaged in a conversation on this topic at least once a month, where a friend or a colleague attempts to convey all the benefits of having a Mac to me. One of the common points I hear each time is that Macs are “virus-proof.” But is that really still the case?

As Macs are getting more popular, they are attracting increasingly more attention of cybercriminals. Kaspersky Lab recently conducted a survey on consumer security and found out that the gap between these two platforms is getting increasingly less noticeable. One of the interesting findings of the survey is that users across various platforms do not put the same emphasis on protecting themselves against cyberthreats – 92% of Windows computer users use a security solution, compared with 60% of Mac desktop users and only 47% of MacBook users. When it comes to listing the priorities when selecting security software, Mac users put price as a top priority (41%), followed by quality (36%). For comparison, Windows users put detection efficiency on top of the priority list (47%) and cost at a close second (42%).

The Windows platform is still leading the pack when it comes to the amount of threats existing, Mac users should take precautions – after all it’s not that long ago that a botnet of over 700,000 Macs was disabled. A semi-legal spying malware made by the Hacking Team that targets hacktivists, journalists, and other inconvenient people for oppressive governments indiscriminately targets iOS and Android.

Although there is are more threats in the wild targeting the Windows platform, there are some areas where Mac users seem to be facing more danger:

  • 13% of Mac users faced malware such as ransomware that required a payment to be reverted
  • 9% of PC users faced such threats
  • 51% of Mac users faced threats targeting financial data
  • 43% of PC users faced financial threats

The good news is that in general, 24% of Apple desktop and 10% of laptop users encountered malware on their computers, compared to an average of 32% for Windows users.

“OS X users have long lived in isolation from the dangers of the Internet so they may feel almost invulnerable, but as cyber threats today are expanding their areas of operation ever more widely, it is important to be prepared for them. In this regard, Kaspersky Lab strongly recommends Mac users not only to install security solutions but remember the rules of safe behavior on the Web,” says Vladimir Zapolyansky of Kaspersky Lab.

What to take from these findings? The main message is that everyone is a target. While there might be differences among various platforms, it is important to realize that criminals are after money and if something can be used to help that effort, it will be, regardless of the platform.