It seems Apple's days of claiming Macs don't get viruses are coming to a close.
According to the Sophos Naked Security blog, Apple's marketing message has changed within the last month. Previously the company's "Why You'll Love A Mac" webpage claimed Apple's OS X software "doesn't get PC viruses." Now, Apple has tweaked that section of the page to read simply, "It's built to be safe."
The page also used to boast that users could "Safeguard your data. By doing nothing." Apple now lists a more modest feature: "Safety. Built right in."
(To see screenshots of these changes side-by-side, click over to Sophos.)
This update arrives several months after nearly 600,000 Macs were infected with a malicious trojan named "Flashback" or "Flashfake." The breach in security was a reality check for many Mac owners who believed their computers to be immune to such attacks.
"Clearly they've decided that pointing out the size of the Windows malware problem isn't going to look terribly convincing unless they are also open about that Mac malware also exists," says Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant for Sophos.
When the latest version of Mac OS X, codenamed Mountain Lion, becomes available to users in July, the software will include a new "Gatekeeper" feature that restricts which applications users can download onto their phones or computers. Only apps "downloaded from the Mac App Store or those digitally signed by a registered developer" will be accessible with the Gatekeeper upgrade, per Computerworld.
ArsTechnica highlighted developers' concerns about this new feature, with some citing a fear that eventually all apps will have to be Apple-based. "If that were the case, users would get a scary warning every time they tried to install software outside of the Mac App Store, making it increasingly unlikely that users would look for software from any other source," wrote Ars.
While Gatekeeper has a few developers worried about its restrictive nature, security analysts suggest these changes in Apple's software and marketing statements reflect a positive transition.
Our own Gerry Smith reported in April about the concern that as the Mac market share grows, so does the threat of possible malware attack.
Security company Kaspersky Labs has also warned iPhone users about possible viruses that may spring forth in the next year or so. While Apple has been more successful than Android in keeping malicious software out of its mobile operating system, security firm Kaspersky reports it has seen an increase in malicious threats, and that Apple is not yet as advanced as Microsoft in its security systems.
Do you own a Mac or another Apple product? If so, do you think Apple could be doing more to alert users to possible threats to the security of your device?
[Hat Tip: PC World]
1. Apple III (1981)
The successor to the very popular Apple II was focused on business users and priced accordingly. Unfortunately, the hardware was unreliable. Apple lost the business market to the IBM PC, launched the same year, and a rapidly expanding market of PC clones.
2. Lisa (1983)
The first commercially produced computer with a graphical user interface cost $9,995 when it launched. It quickly fell into the shadow of the cheaper Macintosh, launched a year later.
3. NeXT Computer (1989)
Jobs' venture after being forced out of Apple created a computer that was in many ways ahead of its time, but in the vein of the Apple III and Lisa, it was also too expensive to catch on with mainstream users.
4. Puck Mouse (1998)
The new iMac was the first major product created after Jobs' return to Apple in 1996, and it was a big success, despite its tiny, round mouse. Users couldn't tell which way it was oriented by feel, and it tended to disappear in the cup of the hand, making it hard to use.
5. The Cube (2000)
This small desktop computer was beautifully encased in a cube of clear plastic. It won design awards but was a flop in stores because of its high price. Also, it didn't really offer any functional benefits over other Macs. Apple's designs are iconic, but people aren't usually willing to pay a premium for design alone. The Cube idea lives on in the Mac Mini, a more successful but less eye-catching small Mac.
6. iTunes phone (2005)
It's easy to forget that the iPhone wasn't Apple's first venture into the cellphone business. It formed a partnership with Motorola Inc. to launch the ROKR in late 2005. As a phone, it was decent if unexciting, but as a music player, it fell far short of the iPod. It could only hold 100 songs, and transferring them from the computer was a slow process. It was also criticized for not allowing users to download music over the cellular network, a limitation that also applied to the first iPhone. Some even called the ROKR "the iPhone."
7. Apple TV (2007)
Apple's foray into the living room was an uncharacteristically half-hearted effort - Jobs later referred to the Apple TV as a "hobby." It was a small box that connected to a TV and to a Mac in the home. A tiny remote allowed the owner to play music and movies from the PC on the TV. It was expensive, at $249, and complicated to set up and use. Movies purchased from iTunes were low resolution and looked blurry on HDTV sets. In 2010, Apple introduced a much improved, cheaper Apple TV designed to connect directly to the Internet.