Thursday, April 18, 2024

Cybersecurity Myths: Is Mac OS Safer Than Windows?

There seems to be a general belief among the people that Mac OS is safer than Windows. We know many reasons why the public is convinced that on Mac their data is safe and protected.

One of the reasons is, of course, related to recent Microsoft events or should we say scandals when they admitted exactly how much volume of personal data they collect. In practice, the truth should always set you free, however, in this case we all felt like prisoners.

In the past, Microsoft’s flagship Windows was the most attacked OS in the history of computers. There were so many attacks that Bill Gates back in 2002 wrote a memo that directed Microsoft to make Windows more secure.

The scandals are not the main reason why people are believing Mac OS is safer than Windows. The core reason is the genius marketing Apple uses for all of their products. Let’s just say that the main reason people believe more in Apple then in Microsoft is… Steve Jobs.

This man managed to transform Apple and market the products among people very successfully. He knew that if he uses the right marketing tools, goes heavily digital, then the decision to create a website that sells the products will be successful.

No doubt Apple produces luxury and high-quality products. On the other hand, great materials, user experience and speed will not protect you from external threats.

If operated with their default security settings along with the vendor’s best practice recommendations both OSes will be adequately secure.  However, that’s not always the case. Nowadays, nothing is 100% secure.  Not even your MacBook.

In 2017, a fake Adobe Flash installer carried MacDownloader malware that should transit Keychain data (including sensitive data such as usernames and passwords).

Recently, there were detected vulnerabilities on the latest Mac operating system. Afterward, we learned that the vulnerabilities affected the majority of computers in the world.

According to NetMarketShare, all versions of MacOS taken together account for about 6.19 percent of the world market share for desktop operating systems while the different versions of Windows hold 91.76 percent market share.

These stats are showing that people will be interested to break the OS that holds the majority of the market share which is Windows.

What do we know about both operating systems? How do they secure our data? Here are some of the things they do protect us from frauds.

1.    Boot up protection

Windows used to apply various boot protections. Usually, they would use pre-boot, boot and post boot protections. However, Microsoft evolved and today we have the Windows Defender System Guard. This Guard summarizes all of the booth protections under one umbrella.

Apple is using a version of UEFI that has less protection known as EFI 1.0. They seem not interested in upgrading to more secure versions of UEFI. However, Apple never released information about the protection they use. Since we don’t have data, we can’t make a good comparison.

2.    Memory protections

Microsoft managed to prevent exploits and escalations with the memory protections. The Windows Defender Exploit Guard is used for these types of protections.

Macs have XD feature into their p rocessors that protects us from memory usage from external threats. The XD creates multiple barriers that keep all of the Mac users safe.

In the end, we can still say that a Mac user might be less at risk than a Windows user. However, cybersecurity will be an ongoing struggle as attackers are always looking to find vulnerabilities that they can exploit and break.

If you are a Mac user, you need to use the system’s security features and third-party security software too if you want to experience complete online security.


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BALAJI is an Ex-Security Researcher (Threat Research Labs) at Comodo Cybersecurity. Editor-in-Chief & Co-Founder - Cyber Security News & GBHackers On Security.


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