Paul Thurrott writes for WinInformant.com, “After a summer of repeated virus and worm attacks, security experts and bored editors are turning once again to an interesting question: How many times does Microsoft software have to be attacked before we stop using it? The situation has become so bad that you can almost hear pundits from the Mac OS X, Linux, and Sun Microsystems side of the fence rubbing their hands in glee. Have we had enough? Is Windows inherently insecure? Of course not. We’re targets because we represent 95 percent of the computing population. Attackers aren’t going to attack Mac OS X users for an obvious reason: The OS has only a few users. If we all jumped ship to Linux, for example, that platform would then come under attack.
“‘The Wall Street Journal’ pundit Walt Mossberg got it all wrong when he wrote that ‘switching to Macs can help users avoid hassle of viruses,’ because if we all did that, the Macintosh would become the target. Apple hasn’t invested in security the way Microsoft has, so the situation would be even worse. And nothing about switching to the Mac helps us with our current applications, hardware investments, and years of experience on Windows. No, what we really need is for the industry to rally around the notion of securing Windows instead of wasting time with silly talk. If you think that the Mac is safer, go for it. But don’t complain when you can’t run the applications or games you want, the hardware is too expensive, or the performance isn’t quite what you’re used to. Sure, the grass is often greener on the other side of the fence, but remember, that statement is true from the other side as well,” Thurrott writes here.
Do you agree with Thurrot’s simplistic concept that Mac OS X security is achieved solely though obscurity? Or do you think The Washington Posts Rob Pegoraro is closer to the mark when he writes, “Windows XP, by default, provides unrestricted, ‘administrator’ access to a computer. This sounds like a good thing but is not, because any program, worms and viruses included, also has unrestricted access. Yet administrator mode is the only realistic choice: XP Home’s ‘limited account,’ the only other option, doesn’t even let you adjust a PC’s clock.”
Pegoraro writes, “Mac OS X and Linux get this right: Users get broad rights, but critical system tasks require entering a password. If, for instance, a virus wants to install a “backdoor” for further intrusions, you’ll have to authorize it. This fail-safe isn’t immune to user gullibility and still allows the total loss or theft of your data, but it beats Windows’ anything-goes approach.”
“Because Microsoft blew off security concerns for so long, millions of PCs remain unpatched, ready for the next Windows-transmitted disease. Microsoft needs to do more than order up another round of ‘Protect Your PC’ ads,” writes Pegoraro. “Here’s a modest proposal: Microsoft should use some of its $49 billion hoard to mail an update CD to anybody who wants one. At $3 a pop (a liberal estimate), it could ship a disc to every human being on Earth — and still have $30 billion in the bank.” Full article here.