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The Computer Corner

ipad

By Charles Miller

The other day I had a brief conversation with someone who asked me why iPads never had any problems with virus or malware. I had to tell him there have been some issues with malware directed on iOS devices, but I did not have the time to elaborate until now.

It seems that all Operating Systems (OS) whether it be Windows, OS-X, Android or iOS all have Achilles heels that are constantly being discovered, exploited, and patched. Of the four OS just mentioned, only one is curated.

Apple owns the iOS ecosystem and as its curator rules it with an iron fist, nothing may be installed on an iPad or iPhone that does not come from the Apple iStore and nothing may be made available in the iStore that is not approved by Apple. And no app is ever approved and placed in the iStore until after it undergoes a supposedly rigorous vetting process by Apple that is supposed to weed out any malware or anything that does not conform to Apple’s dictates.

There have been several instances of iOS malware that evaded all of Apple’s precautions and made it through to the iPads and iPhones of users, but this does not happen often. Apple is always quick to respond, removing the malicious app from the store and purging it from the iOS environment. They even went so far as to ban security researcher Charlie Miller (no relation) whose transgression was to prove faults in Apple’s security then tell Apple how to fix them.

iOS is a curated system, rigidly controlled top to bottom by one curator: Apple. By contrast, other OS such as Windows, Android, and Apple’s OS-X are not curated. Anyone who wants to write software for those OS, good or bad, is free to do so because the only curating being done is by you, the end user. If some crooks write malicious software, such as virus or malware, you and you alone are the only one who stands in the way of installing it on your Mac, PC, or Android device.

Some in the Mac world are looking at the 500 percent increase in Mac malware in the last two years and saying something should be done, but what? A few of the companies that write Mac software call Apple the “evil empire” and do not want Apple to have autocratic control that would allow it to put any software maker out of business on a whim. On the other hand if some central control is not soon agreed upon it looks like Mac may go the way of Windows with its virus and malware problems. The more popular Mac becomes, the more tempting target it will become for the crooks who write virus and malware. The explosion of Mac malware seen since 2015 would only get worse.

The conundrum here is how to create a benevolent dictatorship in which some authority has the power to deal decisively with anyone who creates Mac malware, but is unable to use that power unfairly to stifle creativity or competition among legitimate software makers.

Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981 and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 044 415 101 8528 or email FAQ8 (at) SMAguru.com.

 

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