Apple is sitting on a massive cash reserve totalling $65.8 billion. Enough cash for the company to be able to operate until 2018 even if it decided to stop selling everything. So, what should Apple do with this cash? Put it all on red? Move its HQ to the moon? Buy us all (and I do mean all of us ... everyone on the planet) a few beers? Or what peeling off a few bills and buy up a security firm and giving all Mac OS and iOS users access to free security tools?
See, Apple is facing a problem. A large proportion of users believe that Mac is invulnerable to malware and that security software is unnecessary, despite Apple making it clear that it supports neither view. Until now this hasn't been a problem because hackers and scammers have been too busy hammering Windows users. But that's changing, and criminal elements are now showing an interest in Mac OS X. Security über-journalist Brian Krebs has the details:
Crimekit makers have focused almost exclusively on the Windows platform, but today Danish IT security firm CSIS Security Group blogged about a new kit named the Weyland-Yutani BOT that is being marketed as the first of its kind to attack the Mac OS X platform.
The seller of this crimeware kit claims his product supports form-grabbing in Firefox and Chrome, and says he plans to develop a Linux version and one for the iPad in the months ahead.
There's no form-grabbing for Safari at present because 'too many problems in that browser' but you can bet money on the fact that it'll come.
Another type of emerging threat facing Mac user is one that's been plaguing Windows users for a while now - rogue security software.
Bottom line, malware is headed to Mac OS X, and most Mac users think that they're invulnerable to malware. That's a recipe for disaster. Sure, Apple could hope that its users have a modicum of common sense and practice safe computing habits, but back in the real-world we all know that people are idiots. A well-distributed attack could leave tens of millions of Macs loaded to the brim with malware, and leave Apple with egg on its face.
Solution - Buy a security firm. There are a few to choose from. The cost to Apple would be chump change, but the good will generated from offering customers an Apple-branded solution (hopefully a free Apple-branded solution) would be huge. For those choosing not to have security software installed Apple could bundle an optional system scan in with each OS X update.
Why couldn't Apple just bundle security software with each Mac? Well, it could (I'm unsure as to whether this would attract regulatory scrutiny), but it would be too disruptive to the market. Just offering an Apple-branded security solution would be as good as pre-installing it on systems.
The storm's coming. Fortunately Apple has the cash to prevent this becoming a PR nightmare.
What do you think? Should Apple spend some of that cash on securing Mac OS so users don't have to?