Michael Simon has been covering Apple since the iPod was the iWalk. His obsession with technology goes back to his first PC—the IBM Thinkpad with the lift-up keyboard for swapping out the drive. He’s still waiting for that to come back in style tbh.
Do Macs get viruses? Do Macs need antivirus software? The answer isn’t as simple as it may seem. In this article, we look at the dangers faced by Mac users and the pros and cons of using Mac antivirus software.
The Mac has historically been considered to be safe and secure for a number of reasons that we will go into below, but in recent years that has shifted considerably. In its report on the State of Malware in 2019 here, Malwarebytes said it saw a: “Significant rise in the overall prevalence of Mac threats, with an increase of over 400 percent from 2018”.
The good news is that in 2020 the amount of malware detected on macOS actually decreased by 38 percent, according to the same security company. But before you breathe a sign of relief, Malwarebytes states that the worst kind of malware, namely “backdoors, data stealers, and cryptocurrency stealers/miners, increased by more than 61 percent” in 2020.
But it’s not only Malwarebytes that is reporting that viruses on the Mac is something to be concerned about: Apple is too! In May 2021 Apple’s software chief Craig Federighi took the stand at the Apple vs Epic trial and said that: “Today, we have a level of malware on the Mac that we don’t find acceptable.”
Federighi made the claim mainly to back up the need for an iOS App Store to protect iPhone and iPad users from malware on those devices. But he didn’t hold much back with regards to the malware situation on the Mac.
He revealed that 130 different cases of Mac malware have affected over 300,000 Macs since May 2020 and admited that even members of his family had got malware on their Macs.
When the judge asked about the fact that Mac users can purchase and download software from various places on the Mac, rather than being limited to the Mac App Store, Federighi said: “Yeah, it’s certainly how we’ve done it on the Mac and it’s regularly exploited on the Mac. iOS has established a dramatically higher bar for customer protection. The Mac is not meeting that bar today.”
Federighi went on to explain that Mac users don’t download as much software as iOS users, so if iOS was as open to third-party downloads there would be a real problem for that platform. He said: “That’s…
When Apple announced plans to transition from Intel processors to its own custom silicon last year, the company said it would “release new versions of macOS for Intel-based Macs for years to come.”
It turns out this promise comes with a caveat: Intel-based Macs will miss out on new software features starting this fall. As spotted by MacRumors, Apple’s feature page for macOS Monterey lists several features that will only work with Apple silicon.
Those include FaceTime’s “Portrait Mode” for background blur, offline speech-to-text dictation, the ability to dictate more than 60 seconds of text at a time, additional city details in Apple Maps, an interactive Earth globe in Apple Maps, and text-to-speech for certain languages such as Swedish and Norwegian.
According to Rene Ritchie, those features rely on Apple’s Neural Engine, a machine learning system that isn’t available on Macs with Intel processors. But that’s of little consolation to Mac users who believe at least some of the new features should be available on Intel processors. MacRumors’s forum thread on the news includes more than 700 comments, many of them frustrated. One example: “This is an outrage. No technical reason this can’t be on Intel. Forced depreciation in action.”
Apple did not respond to a request for comment.
Apple debuted its M1 processor in the 13-inch MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini last fall, and it added the chip to its 21-inch iMac in May. Still, the company continues to sell several Mac models that only come with Intel processors, including the 16-inch MacBook Pro, the 27-inch iMac, and the Mac Pro desktop. The company said in June of last year that it plans to finish migrating to its own chips “in about two years.”
In the meantime, Apple hasn’t committed to a specific time frame for supporting Intel-based Macs with software updates. Now that it’s withholding new features from those machines, buying one seems riskier than ever.
Apple has rolled out a new security update for its older gadgets running on iOS 12 such as the iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and iPad Air, to fix a trio of vulnerabilities including some which could lead to memory corruption.
“This update provides important security updates and is recommended for all users,” Apple said in the release notes for the iOS 12.5.4 update.
While most of the devices running on this iOS version were launched in 2013 or 2014 and would be currently six or seven years old, Apple has continued to update them with important security fixes.
Even though these gadgets have not received any new features with the launch of iOS 13, they are still under wide use.
A report by DeviceAtlas says about 8 per cent of iPhone users as of 2020 were still using iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus.
According to the tech giant, the new software patch targets a “maliciously crafted certificate” and two WebKit vulnerabilities – which could lead to arbitrary execution of codes by devices.
WebKit is the web browser engine used by Safari as well as other apps on iOS, and in this flagged vulnerability, if users opened a maliciously prepared page, the system could execute illegal code in the background that could open the door to cyber attacks.
“Processing maliciously crafted web content may lead to arbitrary code execution. Apple is aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited,” the company said in its release notes.
In the other vulnerability, Apple explained that processing a maliciously crafted certificate may lead to arbitrary code execution, adding that it also patched this issue in iOS 14.6.
For the new patch, users can go to Settings > General > Software Update to download and install the update.
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At its Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, Apple executives unveiled MacOS Monterey, the latest version of the Mac’s operating system, also known as MacOS 12. (Check out everything announced at WWDC 2021 here.)
MacOS Monterey follows last year’s MacOS Big Sur. It includes new features like Universal Control, which will allow Mac users to use a single mouse and keyboard to move between your Mac and iPad for a seamless experience. It also includes AirPlay and a redesigned Safari browser with better sync features between devices. The OS also added in several of the new features found in iOS 15, like spatial audio in FaceTime and Apple’s Focus feature.
Apple’s MacOS, first released in 2001, powers the company’s computers like the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and iMac. Back when it was known as OS X, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs touted that it served as the basis for its iOS iPhone software. Over the years, Apple has focused on building apps and features for its MacOS that complement its other devices, including at first its iTunes software. It then brought over more mobile-centric apps like its iMessage communication service, FaceTime video chat and the App Store, which first launched in iOS.
Despite Apple’s popularity, and the success of its iPhones and iPads, the company’s Mac computers still only represent less than 10% of the computers being used today.
The M1 chip is helping to change that though. Apple said fans bought so many new M1 Macs that they helped push the company’s desktop and laptop revenues to an all-time high of $9.1 billion during the first three months of 2021. That was up a whopping 70% from the same period a year earlier. “Keep in mind, in the five years prior to the pandemic, the Mac was essentially a flat business, growing on average 1% annually,” Loup Ventures analyst Gene Munster…