you entrust to iCloud stays insideyour iCloud. Apple promises notto transmit that data to advertising partners. It doesn’t store itoutside your account, and it can’taccess it for its own purposesinside your account. It’s yours.Google, Facebook, and Amazonmake no such promises.
Google and Facebook make
their money by matching adver-
tisements to people who would
like to click on them. If you
think of it as a business selling
widgets, the widgets Google
and Facebook sell are packages
containing user patterns and
preferences, and they sell those
packages to advertisers. Ever
wonder how ads on the internet
seem to know what you’re
thinking? The machine-learning
algorithms Google and Facebook
use to understand your
preferences and patterns can be
iPhone users may be insulat-
ed from this kind of preference
sleuthing, but only if they never
use Google or Facebook or their
associated apps and services.
It doesn’t matter if you’re usingGoogle search on a virus-riddenPC running Windows 95 or on apristine iPhone. In either case,Google will know what yousearched for, what you clickedon, and how long you spent reading it. That said, iPhone usersmay protect themselves fromthis kind of big-data harvesting insome important ways.
For example, Apple Mapsdoesn’t keep records of your location the way that Google Mapsdoes. Apple’s Safari web browsersubmits less information aboutyou and your computer to Google than does Google’s Chromebrowser. But, on the other hand,queries typed into Safari useGoogle search by default, so Safari users usually end up sendingdata to Google anyway. According to a Goldman Sachs’ analyst,Apple receives billions of dollarseach year from Google for theprivilege of remaining the defaultsearch engine in Safari. Phrasedanother way, Apple essentiallysells your search traffic toGoogle, which then gets toharvest your web usage data.
You can opt out easily enough bychanging Safari’s default searchengine to one that doesn’t trackyou, like startpage.com. But, ifApple wants to wag a finger atGoogle about privacy issues, itmight consider changing Safari’sdefault search engine to something other than Google.
Advertising profiles and user
patterns may seem reasonably
benign. Still, most of us can’t
shake the nagging fear that
someone nefarious could gain
access to the trove of informa-
tion about us that is generated
and stored by Google or Face-
book. What kind of bad actors
are out there, what kind of data
do they want, and how are they
most likely to gain that data?
Alas, iPhones and Mac computers are not immune to viruses,nor are they immune to malware.The 2020 State of MalwareReport by Malwarebytes, a virusand threat detection company,found that in 2019, malicious software infections on Mac computers outpaced those on Windows.The seriousness of those Macinfections is still somewhat lessthan what a Windows machinemight experience. The most common Mac threats, such as thosecalled New Tab and Genieo, hijackyour internet searches and directthem to sponsored pages togenerate advertising revenue forthe malware’s authors. Windowscomputers, on the other hand,are much more likely than Macsto be hit by ransomware or othermalware that thoroughly trashesthe machine. That said, more andmore users are abandoningsystem-specific software andturning to browser and cloud-based software instead. Forexample, users are giving up onMicrosoft Word, which runs onyour computer, in favor of GoogleDocs, which runs in a web browser and is stored in the cloud viaGoogle Drive. Because you canuse these browser-based programs on a Mac or a PC equally,they’ve become an attractivetarget for hackers and scammers.Why choose between writingmalware to target Mac orWindows, when you could hitboth? So yes, Apple computersare safer, but that edge is slip-ping, and it is no edge at all if youuse third-party systems.
The same report fromMalwarebytes noted that whilethreats exist for iPhones, there
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. . . GOOGLE WILL
KNOW WHAT YOU