BusinessWeek’s Haddad gets it wrong; thinks low market share spares Macs from viruses

Although “I was tethered to the World Wide Web, I was spared this ordeal. What saved me? These worms have no appetite for Macs, especially those running the latest operating system, OS X. And, it seems, I’m among the few here who uses a Mac,” writes Charles Haddad for BusinessWeek.

“And herein lies an irony. In bemoaning the Mac’s puny market share, the Wintel crowd misses the growing advantage of being small. Neither the disgruntled nor the crusader wants to bother attacking a computer that represents only 3% of worldwide PC sales. You see, going after such a small target won’t earn you front-page headlines,” Haddad misreports, parroting the “3% market share myth” yet again. See Syracuse Post-Standard: 3 percent is a false stat; Mac holds ’10 to 12 percent of the market for personal computers’ for an explanation of the myth. Haddad also insinuates that Mac OS X would be as porous as Windows if only Macs sat on 85% of the world’s desktops. This is just plain wrong, Charles. See: “Virus and worm problems not just due to market share; Windows inherently insecure vs. Mac OS X” and “Shattering the Mac OS X ‘security through obscurity’ myth”

Haddad continues, “That’s not to say that Macs are immune to attacks, but they’re as safe as you can get today. I’ve known only a handful of cases in which Macs or Mac networks were infected. Personally, I’ve yet to suffer an attack in 10 years of using e-mail and surfing the Web on various Macs. And I’ve lived dangerously, even disabling my virus protection while downloading files from unknown users off the Net. No savvy PC user would dare such a foolish thing. Today, my PC friends and co-workers live in constant fear of virus and worm attacks. It has greatly dampened their once torrid love affair with e-mail and the Internet.”

The full flawed and disappointing (even more so, coming from Haddad) article: “The Big Advantage in Being Small.”


  1. Did you even read the article before posting your comments MDN? That article is right on. Haddad even says “…but they’re as safe as you can get today.”

    All he is saying is that on top of the fact that macs are safe, hackers really don’t bother writing the viruses because a) Macs are a small percentage of comps, thus less bang for the buck, and b) it’s hard to write a virus for it anyway, so why waste time?

    Quit getting your back up about everything!

  2. rageous:

    This comment from Haddad says it all – “I’ve known only a handful of cases in which Macs or Mac networks were infected”

    That’s all you need to read to know he has no idea what he’s talking about. His statement “…save as you can get today” means nothing. Why are they as safe as you can get today? Because they aren’t targeted? Safe as you can get compared to what? And what degree of safety over other OS’s – if any?

    He writes on a subject he knows nothing of. Bad journalism.

  3. rageous,

    Haddad writes, “Neither the disgruntled nor the crusader wants to bother attacking a computer that represents only 3% of worldwide PC sales. You see, going after such a small target won’t earn you front-page headlines.”

    That is false. That is wrong. And since MDN posted direct quotes, they obviously did what you failed to do: read the article.

  4. OS X roots on BSD makes it as robust as a worlwide developers communtiy working for 30 years would do to a OS: BSD Unix.

    A virus author cracking into Windows sure creates disruption, damage and have all Windows users screaming in fear.
    Deos s/he get any fame from that? c’mon, they are called script-kiddies !!! How lower that that as a self-esteem boost??

    If a virus author would like fame and show off s/he would break into a BSD system and the OS X would be the ideal choice. If no one has yet succeeded is because it is difficult. The one succeeding would truly show off his technical skills and maybe even get a job at Apple.
    IT IS a very attractive target, problem is it is way over average abilities.

    Although Haddad has nice words he was afraid to tell the story straight: it is no visibility, it has nothing to do with market share. It is because you can even find kits for Windows virii on the net.

    If you want to show off you’d go after a Unix/Linux/OS X system. Windows cracking is for BABIES!

  5. Haddad was absolutely correct in saying most hackers won’t bither to write viruses for macs due to the small market. However, he also clearly states that this is not the ONLY reason viruses aren’t written.

    Jebus the Mac fanatics really are a hostile bunch of late. Stop reading every article that mentions the fact that *gasp* Apple has a small market share as an afront on Apple Computer and Mac OS X. You guys are making a this into a distorted story.

    As far as Haddad calling Macs “safe as you can get today” and then not explaining in depth what he means, for Christ’s sake how many times has someone posted on MDN “Macs are just safer” and not gone into it. This was by no means an in depth article, so the fact he didn’t dedicate 37 paragraphs to explaining one sentence was fine by me.

    We all know if Mac OS X had roughly 90% share, people would be gunning to attack it. The fact that it doesn’t have that share, means fewer do. Why is this such a point of contention?

  6. Who said it was easy?

    If I have two identical ultra secure homes, one in the country where few people try to get to it, and one in the ghetto with hundreds of criminals giving it the once over, the one in the country is more secure. Regardless of whether or not either gets broken in to.

  7. rageous,

    sorry to stress it but virus attack because of market share is a Microsoft distortion to get a positive PR out of a negative situation: “We are not attacked because we are bad, it is because we are everywhere”

    Linux servers are at millions worldwide. Cracking one of them and having virus spreading the way it happens on Windows would create a much greater problem worldwide than infecting Windows (where the majority infected are anyway desktop users). You want to creat world disruption? Crack into Linux.

    You want to play with kiddies? crack into Windows.

    Nothing to do with visibility. Windows had already an enourmous number of virii from the very start: it was not visible then but already had the vast majority of virii. It has not changed with market share. It has been ALWAYS like that.

    If Mac OS X had 90% presence (it has 12% on the internet based on Web site access logs, Linux ~9%) all those script-kiddies would still have to write virii and worms for Windows.

    A virus author would LOVE to be able to say “I AM THE FIRST OS X, BSD UNIX succesfull author! Have it”

    Windows? go download a virus-kit of the web and start playing with your toy. After you spent time shooting at FPS games that is.


  8. *shakes head*

    Forget it. You guys win.

    I’ll just wait until MDN posts the next pro Mac article and you guys rave about how smart and knowledgable he is and sit here with a silent grin.

  9. I would just like to leave this discussion by saying that I never claimed OS X is only secure due to it’s small share. And neither, I believe, did Haddad. But it is a factor, even if that factor is a minimal one.

  10. rageous:

    C’mon –are you really that thick? The point is, Charles makes his audience believe that the reason Mac OS X ‘seems’ more secure than Windows is because of marketshare. That is false. Mac OS X is inherently more secure than Windows. It wouldn’t matter if marketshare were reversed. Mac OS X would still be vastly more secure than Windows.

    Get it?

  11. Fort Knox is not secure because there’s only one

    This equates the silliness of Windows being attacked because more visible and OS X, BSD Unix, Linux enjoy security-via-obscurity.

    If you let Microsoft off the hook with this bait you can bet you will still have 100 security patches a year from anything from Redmont.
    The problem is not Haddad right or wrong or not precise enough. The point is the all story of “security-via-obscurity” and Windows on the bullseye IS an escape route used Microsoft.
    They even go with “other OSes has no more no less security problems”
    This is what makes everything disgusting and Windows users wolrdwide gobble it and bend their heads.

    Wake up buddy.

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