Apple users warned against false sense of security

Virginia Lottery executive director Paula Otto, left, awards a million-dollar prize to Christina Robinson, of Lorton, on Friday. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

WASHINGTON — Despite recent reports that Apple products are vulnerable to hackers, Data Doctor Ken Colburn says a troubling number of users are choosing not to do security updates.

“We’re talking about iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and people with the Mac OS X on laptop or desktop,” says Colburn.

Colburn says a programming bug traced back to a change 18 months ago exposed Mac and iOS users to what’s known as the “Man in the Middle” attack while accessing websites.

Despite press attention and the security patches Apple rushed out, Colburn says he’s encountering many users who haven’t done the security updates.

“This begs the question – has Apple done its customers a disservice by promoting the fact it’s more secure and you can’t get viruses?”

“The reality is it’s very clear security issues for Apple products are just as dangerous as for Windows and Linux and other operating systems,” says Colburn.

Colburn says it’s imperative Apple users realize their devices are vulnerable, and “take these security alerts seriously and not just assume ‘they’re not going to get me because I’m running an Apple product.'”


What makes Apple devices vulnerable to hackers?

Colburn says the recent Apple security problems are as serious as he’s ever seen, for any operating system.

“Everything from the browser to iTunes, iMessage, FaceTime – there’s all sort types of software that have vulnerabilities that are constantly being updated and patched,” says Colburn.

In the past two weeks, Apple has released two operating system updates, including 7.1, which is the latest for iOS users, that patches several dozen security flaws.

According to Colburn, the Panda security software company claims there has been a 400 percent increase in malware targeting Macs in the past three years.

“Compared to Windows, that’s still in general a small number, but it doesn’t matter what the number is,” says Colburn.

Still, many Apple users seem unconcerned, and ignore the “App Updates Available alert” notification on OS X, and in iOS devices.

“It’s a really dangerous thing to do,” says Colburn. “You really need to change your attitude.”


How to make sure your computer is safe

Colburn says there’s a quick way to make sure your Apple device is safe – by logging onto GoToFail.com, which checks to make sure security updates are current.

More importantly, Colburn says, even though there are fewer hacker attacks against Apple devices, “It doesn’t matter what the number is. Hackers are targeting Apple customers, so you have to pay attention.

Colburn says time is of the essence, in matters of security.

“Go and check to see if you have all the latest updates. Today.”

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