Mac OS X Lion
Apple’s OS has always been less vulnerable to malware—or at the very least less desirable a target because of its smaller market share. But as the recent Mac Defender Trojan proved, no software is completely secure. To help stay a step ahead of the bad guys, Lion includes new security features, such as application sandboxing and enhanced runtime protection.
Sandboxing is designed to reduce the impact of a given threat by limiting what an application can do. That includes accessing the network or opening documents that may contain sensitive data.
Meanwhile, address space layout randomization (ASLR) is now available for apps to make them more resistant to attacks. Basically, it’s a technique that continually changes the memory location of active system and application software. The idea is to foil attacks aimed at gaining access to a computer via specific software components.
Last but not least is FileVault 2 full-disk encryption, which allows users to encrypt their important files easily. You can even encrypt an entire drive.
Microsoft has fortified Windows 7 with enhanced security features to help minimize damage caused by viruses and other malware, but the OS works best in tandem with separate security software. A new Action Center tells you whether your antivirus software is up to date and whether your firewall is on. Windows Updates are automatic by default, but you can always change that. Unfortunately, these updates often occur at inopportune times, so you may want to tweak the settings so that your computer downloads updates but then lets you choose whether to install them.
To help protect your notebook, you can download the free Microsoft Security Essentials program, which can shield your system from viruses, spyware, Trojans, and more. And you’ll need some sort of security software because Windows continues to be the much bigger target for malware writers. Premium security software tends to offer more robust features, but we wish the free trials that came pre-loaded on laptops didn’t bug users to register so often.
Although Macs are becoming more interesting to hackers, Windows users are still much more susceptible to malware. In addition, frequent security software alerts and Windows OS updates are annoying.