Dr. Bombay Computer M.D. get it all wrong about Macs, viruses and more

“Here’s the deal on viruses: Nobody is going to waste much time creating something that will hammer only a tiny fraction of the computers out there. That’s why the only virus news that makes it into the paper is when some cretin finds a previously undiscovered way to goober with Windows, which is the operating system in more that 90 percent of the world’s computers,” Dr. Emilio Bombay writes for The Star-Telegram.

[MacDailyNews: Bzzzzt. Please try again:
Is Mac OS X really inherently more secure than Windows? – August 26, 2003
BusinessWeek’s Haddad gets it wrong; thinks low market share spares Macs from viruses – August 28, 2003
Shattering the Mac OS X ‘security through obscurity’ myth – August 28, 2003
Fortune columnist: ‘get a Mac’ to thwart viruses; right answer for the wrong reasons – September 02, 2003
New York Times: Mac OS X ‘much more secure than Windows XP’ – September 18, 2003
Columnist tries the ‘security through obscurity’ myth to defend Windows vs. Macs on virus front – October 1, 2003
Gates: Windows ‘by far the most secure’ system; tries to use ‘Mac OS X secure through obscurity’ myth – January 27, 2004
Mac OS X has no viruses; what’s wrong with Windows? – February 11, 2004]

“I guarantee you that if Steve Jobs had had more business sense than ‘vision’ years ago and Apple had the dominant operating system today, we’d see nothing but stories about new viruses bringing the world’s Macs to a standstill and how really savvy people were safe because they used this quaint little niche product called Windows,” Bombay writes.

[MacDailyNews Note: see last note above.]

“Operating systems like Unix and Linux (kind of like Unix, but free) are harder to infect, but it’s not impossible. And Mac’s OS X (based on Unix) is not as virus-safe as its champions like to think. Already, there’s at least one serious worm that affects it, plus several more that can attack when running in the “Classic” environment — which lets an OS X machine emulate an older one so it can run programs whose publishers are too lazy to write new code for the new operating system,” Bombay writes.

[MacDailyNews Note: Wrong. Apple does release occasional security updates for OS X. An OS security update is not a virus, it’s not an exploit, just a hypothetical issue. There are no viruses or worms for Mac OS X.]

“If you go with Apple, at least your wife won’t complain about how long you linger in the software section at the computer store. Minuscule market share, minuscule selection of software. Oh, there are some fantastic programs, especially for graphics, digital imaging and video work, and Microsoft is still making Office for the Mac (at least until Jobs ticks off Bill Gates one more time) but just try to find a copy of Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto,” Dr. Bombay writes.

[MacDailyNews Note: There are currently over 18,000 Macintosh applications and software titles available on the market. Because Dr. Bomaby doesn’t see them in Wal-Mart, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. If you devoted just a day to learn to use each piece of Mac software available, it would take you over 49 years and 4 months to use all of the Mac software available.]

Dr. Bombay is supposed to be funny, we think that’s the point, but in this case he’s just plain wrong. We hope the good doctor isn’t offended, but we’re going to need a second opinion when it comes to computing answers. Full article here.

34 Comments

  1. Kenny, no denying that it’s ubiquity contributes a lot to the problem. However, there’s only a certain amount of truth there. Windows is being targeted way way way over its market share.
    The problem with articles like these is that they use it as an excuse and try to suggest that any other system has the same problems, and as you point out yourself, that ain’t so.
    Further, no-one is denying it’s possible to write a virus for OS X, it’s just much tougher. There’s a difference between impossibility and improbability. To write a virus for OS X would take talent, brains to have anywhere near the effect on the mac platform. That extra password is actually quite an effective last barrier, and stops people long enough to make them think.
    The fact that Mac users tend to actually like what there using is also a strong contributing factor. To gain the knowledge to create an OS X virus would require extensive use of the platform, and after that, who would still want to wreck it?

    Oh, one more thing. Has anyone noticed that this is mainly caused by a non-executable (a zip file, supposedly harmless, right?) launching an executable by default when it’s opened? How come no-one’s complaining about this? This is a mistake that was made in the past, and they keep making it. What with that? That is just sloppy and irresponsible.

  2. Kenny, fact is that on the Mac you truly need the idiots of idiots in order to do the same damage an average virus could do to a Windows computer.
    It is NOT enough on OS X to click on the attachment of an email to get a virus. On Windows it is the case. On OS X the *user* should truly be idiot.

    I would not say Windows users are idiots if they get a virus.

    Yes, Micros**t is hated but admit that when Gates or Balmer or other MS brasses brag about security they just trigger self respected crackers to get on the move. The reaction is “Who are they treating as idiots? Secure? Hah! I’ll show them”

    I am pretty sure that if Micros**t would simply admit they have a problem instead of IDIOTIC comments from Bill Gates that viruses make for a more secure system(!!!!) there would be less attacks.

    I mean, Gates’ comment is like gas on a fire on the crackers community EXACTLY because is just shit wrt security. Never brag if you are not up to the task.

    I think if one looks for correlation one easy one would be that attacks always follow M$ bragging. Maybe crackers believe in a mission to have people open their eyes.

  3. My favorite part is
    “Already, there’s at least one serious worm that affects it…”
    ALREADY, ONE WHOLE VIRUS IN 3 YEARS! GOLLY GEE!
    Yes I know there are no actual viruses, but you would think an intelligent person reading this would see that and say “Wait, Ive had 3 NEW Viruses this week alone, whats wrong with this picture?”

  4. Thanks for the link, Seahawk. It could be argued that, since OS X is basically NeXTStep, and also FreeBSD, that OS X inherits the history of those two OSes. That wouldn’t be a bad thing, though. More history makes OS X seem less like an unknown factor, and the histories of those two OSes is pretty good.

  5. “you would think an intelligent person reading this would see that and say “Wait, Ive had 3 NEW Viruses this week alone, whats wrong with this picture?”

    Buffy, you know what? you are right! I guess I was wrong in saying Windows users are not idiots. Maybe they are, all taken into account.

  6. Kenny, only as an extrapolation. Security on *nices has evolved so OS X is more secure then NeXT and FreeBSD of previous years. And let’s remember BSD Unix is probably the most secure flavor of unix around.

    As you say, even in the stretched case of conflating histories of technological ancestors combined it is a good and reassuring history already!

  7. Here is a question for the M.D.. Does Nature never waste much time to create diseases for the lowest numbered population? You see, when you cross the boundary of exact science, you never ever make a generalization that broad. It only takes one Mac hater or a cracker who wants to be the first ever to write an OS X virus to try. The only thing is, we may never hear anything about them unless they succeed in writing one. What is more likely? No one, not a single cracker, out of millions attempts to write one or that some tried but failed? It is surprising for “a man of science” to fall into that trap.

  8. Bo’ster: Good point. I meant only to say that we should control our talking points. Simply denying the article’s claim isn’t enough because it bases it’s claim on an obvious truth about fame-seekers. We don’t want to be misunderstood as denying that obvious truth because it will make us seem unreasonable. Personally, I think it better to jump right to my talking points rather than addressing the fame issue.

    Seahawk: You’re right about the Mac user having to be truly dense, but I didn’t mean to imply that all Windows users are that dense. I could have worded that better.

    Good point about Gates’ arrogant claims. I’m sure that does draw a lot of malicious hackers. That may be why Apple is not touting it’s own security, as some MDN posters have noticed. In fact, I cringe when I see some of the letters MDNers send to “obscurity myth” journalists. Some of the claims they make are very unlikely. BSD and NeXT have fine security records, but not perfect. Though the security flaws found in OS X have never been exploited, they might be someday, and every reasonable person knows it.

    But that’s a different discussion.

  9. It seems that the good doctor is demonstrating a perfect example of Argumentum ad ignorantiam.

    This fallacy asserts the truthfulness of a proposition simply on the basis that there is no evidence to the contrary.

  10. I’ve been writing games/programs/utilities (mostly games) for the Mac OS since 1984 and as we all know, games take up a vast amount of your computer’s resources and we like to use ALL the tricks we can come up with to make our game do things that nobody else’s program does.

    With that said, I’ve explored the darkest regions of the MacOS and I’ve even attempted to write a few “virus-like” programs, just to see if I could (being the over-aged “script-kiddie” that I am), and so far I’ve not been successful at all. It’s VERY secure from what I can see.

    You CAN screw up someone’s machine – but it really takes a totally clueless “end-user” to allow you to do damaging things. Not many Mac users are that stupid.

    (like the windoze luzer who swore his PeeCee was safe, and I said “Oh really? What’s your password?” He proudly proclaimed; “It’s HONEY – used to be MONEY but I changed it.” – good lord)

    If it could be done, we’d have done it already – trust me.

  11. Here is the reply I sent to the good doctor…

    “Your bit on viruses and the relative obscurity of Mac users (and their software) was artful satire, right? If it wasn’t, your malpractice rates are gonna go up when your insurance company finds out you aren’t doing your homework before advising “patients”.

    Aside from all the obvious reasons millions of Mac users prefer Mac OS X and Apple computers, I have to say, “I love my Mac.” Laugh if you will, but while teeming masses are going nuts with their Windows boxes, I’ll be enjoying the last laugh… and a lot of virus free computing in style!”

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