The statement above should be changed to ‘why a VPN is essential for all computer users. This is because other forms of computers are also susceptible to malware, viruses, and hacking attacks, which can be prevented by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). But for many years, it was a belief held by Mac users that Apple computers were safe from computer viruses due to the superior security inherent in the machines’ operating systems. Mac users also often adhered to the lofty assumption that no one would ever build a virus to infect a Mac, even if possible.
To understand why this historic Mac / Windows security debate even exists, it’s essential to look back at the early days of computing before we examine the benefits of a free VPN for windows.
Back as far as the early 1980s, Apple and Microsoft worked closely together, and indeed the two companies’ respective CEOs, Bill Gates of Microsoft and Steve Jobs of Apple, were personal friends. In those days, Apple effectively hired Microsoft to develop software for Mac computers, including the first Mac operating system.
But the business relationship soon started to cool when Microsoft went alone to build their operating system, MS-DOS, and Apple decided to hire their developers, so Microsoft started producing software in their own right.
Jobs had complained that Gates and his crew were taking shortcuts in developing less secure and stable software than they required at Apple, so before long, Microsoft’s operating system became cheaper as it was quicker to build. As a result, for many years, Microsoft’s ‘Windows’ operating system became the hugely dominant player with a digital edge in the personal and small business computing market.
Apple’s hardware was considerably more expensive than that chosen by machine manufacturers shipping with Windows installed. So it became that Apple computers (now known as Macs) were used almost exclusively by design companies, photographers, and media for their clear lead in graphics rendering. In short, Macs looked better, rendered colors faster, and ran image processing software much more efficiently than Windows machines. But Macs cost around three times as much as PCs, so companies using computers for commercial applications like spreadsheets, emails, and the like had no requirement for the luxury of Mac OS and expensive hardware.
Prince of darkness
All is well and good so far. However, in the mid-1990s, Microsoft became infamous for its extremely cut-throat and anti-competitive practices, including forging exclusive licensing agreements with computer manufacturers forbidding them from selling machines not bundled with a Windows operating system. Furthermore, Microsoft also hard-wired its web browser, Internet Explorer, as a non-removable default web browser on Windows machines so that any other browser downloaded onto the same computer would not function properly or, in some cases, was deleted from the applications folder! Microsoft also started selling its products at a loss to undercut any software market competition completely.
All the above illegal practices earned Bill Gates, Microsoft CEO, the title of ‘Prince of Darkness’ by those in the computing world. It wasn’t until Microsoft was fined millions upon millions of dollars and threatened with forced closure by the US government that they changed their practices for the better in the early noughties.
The upshot of all this commercial malpractice was hundreds of computer hackers who would only write viruses to disable Windows machines. This was because Apple had a policy of publishing their code as ‘open source’ – meaning that any developer was welcome to use Apple’s code to build their products. If Apple found such a product to be of sufficient quality, they would recommend installing it on Mac OS.
Stand and deliver!
On the other hand, Microsoft kept its source code a tight secret so that the only people who could develop applications for Microsoft were the company’s employees or contractors. Microsoft was seen as the evil money-grubbing bad guy for many years, whereas Apple Inc would spread good karma in its wake.
Therefore, there was a time when computer hackers didn’t write viruses for Macs; it would be seen analogously as stealing from a church charity box, and in any case, there were hardly any target churches around, whereas writing a virus for Windows was a fair sport, highway robbery of the Sheriff of Nottingham’s coaches by Robin Hood and his merry men!
But nowadays, things have changed. Many more computer users have adopted Macs, and the days of Robin Hood are long gone; hackers will now install ransomware and make phishing attacks on Windows PCs and Macs alike. The baddies’ methods are now more sophisticated – they don’t go after the machine’s operating system (OS) – rather the browser running on that OS, or a third-party email client, which can still give away your passwords and install malware, even if your core OS remains unaffected.
Cloak and Dagger
Mac or Windows, regardless, using a free VPN that installs as a browser extension can protect against the installation of viruses by encrypting your connection to the internet using a proxy server, which also anonymizes and cloaks your web activity.
Using a VPN ensures that you can’t get hacked, your ISP can’t throttle your data (i.e., slow it down because you’re using too much), or sell your activity logs. You can enjoy choosing an international server to get around streaming geo-restricted content and access websites normally banned from certain connections – e.g., Facebook from your school WI-FI network.
The VPN downloads as a tiny installer file; then, you can protect any browser used on your machine; you might use Firefox for work and Chrome for personal surfing. Both can be protected by a free Windows VPN, keeping your web activity unrecorded and anonymous while your PC remains free of viruses, malware, and trojans.
We hope you enjoyed your brief history lesson. Happy surfing!