Microsoft have good reason to take viruses and malware seriously, more than ten years of complaints about Windows being insecure and prone to attack. In truth though the company has made great strides in recent years protecting the latest versions of Windows against rootkits and all manner of other attack.
Windows still needs to be protected with anti-virus software however and, while Microsoft’s own free anti-virus package does a good job, the company’s past failures still maintain a multi-million dollar worldwide industry in third-party solutions.
Microsoft are good at responding to malware and viruses too, their operating systems include Windows Defender and once a month a Malicious Software Removal Tool will come down to those with automatic updates enabled. The company always publicise details of threats on their websites and works closely with third-party security companies to minimise the risk to its customers.
With Windows Phone, their new smartphone OS, things are even better. Because every app for the platform must be vetted before going into the official app store (the only way to get apps on the phones) then viruses and malware simply don’t get through. This is an essential ingredient with smartphones which are linked far more closely than our home PCs will ever be to direct payment methods.
Apple too maintain tight control over their smartphone app store, which helps keep malware off the platform but it’s on their own desktop operating system that things begin to fall down. Google are even worse and I feel that both companies are heading for a disaster. So why is it that Apple and Google aren’t taking malware seriously?
To justify my point we’ll start with Google. This company has a free and open smartphone OS with an app store devoid of the diligent scrutiny that Apple and Microsoft show. Consequently in just one week last month, no fewer than 26 malware apps were found in, and removed from the Android app store with no word on how long they’d already been there.
These malware apps don’t just affect Android smartphones, where they can run up bills on people’s tarriff’s, access their email, contacts and more, but they’re also present on Android tablets. These are devices on which we do banking and online purchasing.
Google’s response to malware is almost completely absent. They’ll scour their app store for the stuff every month and remove it when they find it, but none of this helps the people who get infected by it.
I also have concerns about their new Chromebooks as there’s similarly no virus and malware protection for these. Just a browser that people will use for banking and shopping.
Now you’ll probably point out here that every criminal is attacking Windows. Well this is no longer the case any more as the ever-increasing proliferation of Android malware demonstrates.
Apple also has its own problems with OS X. A recent malware attack by “Mac Defender” has left many people out of pocket when they were defrauded out of their credit card details. Worse a new DIY Crimeware kit is now available through forums for Mac malware and virus writers.
It’s clear then that Google and Apple platforms are coming under increasing attack from criminals and this is a situation that’s only ever going to get worse.
To compound matters even further, a recent leaked memo from Apple to it’s support staff instructed that “AppleCare does not provide support for removal of the malware. You should not confirm or deny whether the customer’s Mac is infected or not.” and an Apple helpline worker recently told PC Pro magazine “We don’t recommend installing security software,”
Clearly Apple and Google are going to have to raise their game if they’re not going to lose the trust and support of their very loyal customers. It’s astonishing to me that they’ve never learned lessons from Microsoft’s past mistakes and that they still believe that anything Unix is immune and doesn’t need protecting. These two companies need to wake up quickly before the really bad news begins.