“When the SANS Institute, a computer-security training organization, released its Top-20 vulnerabilities last week, the rankings continued an annual ritual aimed at highlighting the worst flaws for network administrators. This year, the list had something different, however: The group flagged the collective vulnerabilities in Apple Computer’s Mac OS X operating system as a major threat,” Robert Lemos writes for SecurityFocus.

“It’s the first time that the SANS Institute called out an entire operating system for its vulnerabilities. While the move has raised questions about the value of such a general warning, highlighting recent vulnerabilities in Mac OS X was intended as a wake up call, said Rohit Dhamankar, security architect for TippingPoint, a subsidiary of networking firm 3Com, and the editor for the SANS Top-20 vulnerability list,” Lemos writes. “‘We are not pointing at the entire Mac OS X and saying you have to worry about the entire operating system,’ he said. ‘It is just that the Mac OS X is not entirely free of troubles.’”

Lemos writes, “The naming of Apple’s Mac OS X to the list is the latest warning from security experts to users that Apple’s operating system is not immune to threats. In its last two bi-annual reports, security firm Symantec has warned Apple users that the perceived security strengths of Mac OS X will not withstand determined attackers, especially with mounting vulnerabilities and at least one known rootkit tailored to the system. (Symantec is the owner of SecurityFocus.)”

“Such warnings, however, have to contend with the Mac OS X’s impressive lack of major security incidents. While users of Microsoft Windows have to worry about the latest viruses, Trojan horse programs, spyware and phishing attacks, users of Apple’s systems have significantly fewer threats about which to be concerned,” Lemos writes.

Full article here.

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Poppycock and Balderdash aren’t just a nice snack and a fun game anymore. What’s next, is the SANS Institute going to warn Madonna that a Best Actress Oscar is coming her way? Sheesh. Forgive us for not quaking in fear, but we’re not rushing to buy Symantec’s Norton AntiVirus 10.0 for Macintosh.

No operating system is invulnerable, but users of Mac OS X are so much safer than users of Windows, it’s impossible to overstate the discrepancy. Don’t run Mac OS X as root and don’t authorize applications that you don’t understand or trust. Use Software Update to keep your Mac up to date. Turn on your Mac OS X Firewall (System Preferences>Sharing>Firewall) if you wish. Run AntiVirus apps to screen out Windows viruses, so you don’t pass them on to Windows sufferers, if you’re feeling like a magnanimous network citizen.

Zero Mac OS X viruses, spyware or other malware, for five years and counting, and we’re running the one OS deemed a “major security threat” by the SANS Institute? Whatever.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Apple releases Security Update 2005-009 for Mac OS X – November 29, 2005

Why Symantec’s ‘scare tactics’ don’t worry Mac users – September 28, 2005
Symantec details flaws in its antivirus software – March 30, 2005
Motley Fool writer: ‘I’d be surprised if Symantec ever sells a single product to a Mac user again’ – March 24, 2005
Symantec cries wolf with misplaced Mac OS X ‘security’ warning – March 23, 2005
Symantec’s Mac OS X claims dismissed as nonsense, FUD – March 22, 2005
Symantec warns about Mac OS X security threat – March 21, 2005

Microsoft Windows virus spreads rapidly; Apple Macintosh unaffected – November 28, 2005
Computer columnist: anti-virus software purely optional for Apple Macs, not so for Windows – November 01, 2005
Microsoft apologists and why Apple’s Mac OS X has zero viruses – October 24, 2005
NY Times’ Pogue: Apple’s iMac G5 with sleek, virus-free, spyware-free OS earns place in living room – October 19, 2005
$500 bounty offered for proof of first Apple Mac OS X virus – September 27, 2005
Symantec: 10,866 new Microsoft Windows virus and worm variants in first half 2005 – September 19, 2005
How to avoid viruses and malware? Dump your Windows PC and get an Apple Macintosh – August 22, 2005
Do Apple Mac OS X users need antivirus software? – August 22, 2005
ZDNet: How many Mac OS X users affected by the last 100 viruses? None, zero, not one, not ever – August 18, 2005
Hackers already targeting viruses for Microsoft’s Windows Vista – August 04, 2005
16-percent of computer users are unaffected by viruses, malware because they use Apple Macs – June 15, 2005
Intel CEO Otellini: If you want security now, buy a Macintosh instead of a Wintel PC – May 25, 2005
There are no viruses for Apple’s Mac OS X – May 13, 2005
Apple touts Mac OS X security advantages over Windows – April 13, 2005
97,467 Microsoft Windows viruses vs. zero for Apple Mac’s OS X – April 05, 2005
Apple’s Mac OS X is virus-free – March 18, 2005
Cybersecurity advisor Clarke questions why anybody would buy from Microsoft – February 18, 2005
Security test: Windows XP system easily compromised while Apple’s Mac OS X stands safe and secure – November 30, 2004
Microsoft: The safest way to run Windows is on your Mac – October 08, 2004
Information Security Investigator says switch from Windows to Mac OS X for security – September 24, 2004
New York Times: Mac OS X ‘much more secure than Windows XP’ – September 18, 2003