What it is: The latest version of macOS High Sierra will check weekly for changes in the firmware of a Macintosh.
One of the biggest problems with any computer are malicious software otherwise known as malware. Malware can take many forms including viruses, Trojan horses, rootkits, and spyware. Whatever form malware takes, it usually causes problems for the user and the computer.
In the PC world, Microsoft has had to battle malware for decades because MS-DOS and later Windows became the default operating system for most people. That’s why hackers targeted MS-DOS and Windows so heavily with occasional forays into other operating systems. Yet because most people (targets) used MS-DOS and Windows, most hackers wrote malware to infect MS-DOS and Windows.
Microsoft has made great strides in making Windows more secure, but the fact remains that Windows still is home to the most malware in the world. It’s not Microsoft’s fault, but they have to deal with the problems.
In the smartphone world, Apple tightly controls which apps people can install on their iPhone or iPad, which limits the spread of malware. It’s not perfect, but it greatly reduces the spread of malware that Android allows through its openness. While Android users must worry about malware, iPhone and iPad users generally do not.
With the Macintosh, Apple has had fewer problems dealing with malware than Microsoft has had to do with Windows. That’s because fewer people used the Macintosh so hackers mostly ignored it although you can still find plenty of malware written for the Macintosh. As more people use the Macintosh, more hackers are writing malware for the Macintosh.
To limit the possible spread of malware, Apple created GateKeeper, which attempts to block suspicious programs from being installed on a Macintosh. It’s not perfect, but it’s helpful. Now with the latest version of macOS High Sierra, Apple has added a new feature to detect firmware changes.
One of the toughest forms of malware to eliminate is a rootkit, which gets its name because it takes complete control over a computer. Rootkits can infect a Windows PC and hide from all attempts to find it because it literally controls the operating system and what data it sends back to technicians and anti-virus software. Once infected with a rootkit, a computer can only be fixed by wiping out the entire hard drive and reinstalling everything all over again.
That’s why macOS High Sierra checks a Macintosh computer’s firmware weekly. If it detects changes, then it’s likely the change occurred through a rootkit. If the firmware has been changed, then the Macintosh can contact Apple and Apple can (hopefully) find a way to fix the problem.
This new feature of macOS High Sierra is simply meant to make the Macintosh more secure. It won’t be perfect, but it’s better than nothing and it makes malware harder to spread on a Macintosh (but not impossible). As more people switch to the Macintosh from Windows, they can expect a far less troublesome computing experience. If Windows users could tolerate the strange user interface of Windows 8, they should have no problems adjusting to the slightly different ways of the Macintosh.
Now that macOS High Sierra adds an additional security feature, macintosh users can also expect far fewer malware problems than if they had used a Windows PC.