Is Microsoft the Only OS Company taking Malware and Viruses Seriously?

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.

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11 Responses to Is Microsoft the Only OS Company taking Malware and Viruses Seriously?

  1. Anonymous June 17, 2011 at 8:32 am #

    Apple for so long has relied on security through obscurity.  No one cared enough to write Malware and Virus protection for their OS.  They’ve become so cocky over the years because of this, that they still feel impervious.  When in reality it’s only a manner of time for the focus to be on them.  And I don’t know what is going on with Google’s security.

    • Guest June 17, 2011 at 11:12 am #

      Actually, it’s worse than that. They ptetended it was due to the OS’s inherently strong security and marketed it that way. So now they have a problem. If they admit OS X isn’t impervious, they look stupid and risk losing some diehard fanboys.

  2. Anonymous June 17, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

    Making an app store that is at the mercy of the maker (ie Microsoft, Apple) and require that all applications installed are from these stores is stupid.
    Let’s face it – the PC app market wouldn’t be so big if everyone had to submit their applications to some (expensive) app store.
    App stores are great for a centralized place of applications and if published also guaranteed to be free of malware. But it also takes a lot of time to get them published, and it often costs money.
    Apple’s tight approach is even more stupid since it limits free right and free speech. Microsoft following the Apple way is right down stupid.

  3. Ericmcdace June 17, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    This article is not factual. Granted Microsoft has made some strides in malware and virus protection i don’t believe they care all that much. (these are my opinions you can disagree if you want) having owned a PC for years and then having owned a mac for years i can attest to the flaws in each os. Apple however does care about Virus prevention. Since leopard macs have been checking every file that’s downloaded from the internet and warns if it is a know threat. In regards to the current “Mac Defender” malware program apple acted quickly in providing an update that would not only remove the malware but also check DAILY (not monthly) for an updated database and for the malicious software itself. (This is a system they created in 2009 in the event that such an outbreak would occur) The reason apple doesn’t recommend protection software is simply because mac os x does a fine job a virus and malware prevention on it’s own. On top of that since i have owned a mac (2007) i have never heard of a malware outbreak that was not related to downloading pirated software. I will admit apple lacks in virus and malware removal but that isn’t a problem if the malware is never installed. I understand that this post will most likely result in an apple vs Microsoft debate but my intentions were simply to get the facts straight.

  4. Jotinpro June 17, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

    Ericmcdace, that was just one big one. More will come. Now that apple is starting to get bigger more people are writing viruses for it. And the time that you felt oh so secure and you never “heard of amalware outbreak” will be at an end. The memeo itself proves their arrogence. The same thing goes for Google. Although they don’t say it openly enough, they are an open source OS. And people should know that. But know that it has become so main stream they’re not going to say anything. They love being so intigrated with all their device. If the public knew how insecure it was their share would disolve over a matter of months if Google didn’t do anything about it. @EssentiaX:disqus Your the stupid one. You cannot really believe that the offical App store from the OS would not scan and filter out the apps? If you want freedom of speach. They should be very tight. If you want to take the risk of installing app’s that are not screened then you can download other market places. They’re are not just one for each OS, but many. For the general public the way that Apple and Microsoft are handling their App stores is right on the money

    • Jotinpro June 17, 2011 at 9:34 pm #

      Sorry for my typos… But I think you get the point…

    • Ericmcdace June 18, 2011 at 11:23 am #

      Apple currently has 10% market share, if what your saying is true than 10% of viruses should be on mac (or at least 5% because of recent sudden growth) the reason it is not is because Macs are more secure. The way i see it, macs are oriented for consumers (aka people who don’t know how to remove viruses or even understand the concept of a virus. Like my mother, who told me that all windows computers will download a virus the second they connect to the internet unless they have virus protection. she then told me that all exe files were viruses). Windows computers are more for companies who have IT specialists to fix any problem or people who know what they’re doing. I prefer windows 7 to mac os x, i would not be using a mac if security weren’t a problem, but it is and on a stock installation, macs do a better job at security.

      • Xenthis June 19, 2011 at 11:04 am #

        They may do better with a stock installation, but once you get good (free) virus protection for a windows machine, you don’t have to worry about it. I have never gotten a virus and the only OS I have ever used is Windows. You just have to be more careful than on a mac.

  5. Anonymous June 18, 2011 at 3:41 am #

    Install Malware on a Mac and do the same for Windows and let’s see the outcome starting with actual removal of the malware. To make it fair install stock Windows 7 SP1 that does not include 1st party (Security Essentials) and 3rd party (the rest) anti-viruses as well as stock OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.7.

    I have had to remove many forms of Malware from Windows, only one kind from OS X and let it be clear that OS X has a far easier removal process.

    • Xenthis June 19, 2011 at 11:06 am #

      That depends on what antiviral software you are using. I use AVG Free Edition and when it catches a virus, it puts in a “virus vault’ where you can decide what to do with it. Super easy.

  6. Prlinux August 19, 2011 at 10:39 am #

    Why would people move from win xp to win 7 if there were no malware?

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