Apple exec: Mac OS X is ‘more secure than other platforms, certainly more secure than Microsoft Wind

“Security is very important to Apple. It’s one of the key perceived differences between OS X and Windows, which is constantly battling viruses, worms and spyware,” Leander Kahney reports for Wired. “So this week Apple executives worked overtime talking to the press. The message is that Apple takes security very, very seriously, and the company has learned an important lesson in communicating about security issues with its customers.”

“Ken Bereskin, Apple’s director of Mac OS X product marketing, said that Apple was stung by recent criticism that the company didn’t communicate in detail about security updates. He admitted descriptions of patches downloaded automatically in OS X’s Software Update mechanism tended to be simplistic,” Kahney reports. “Bereskin added, ‘In general, we feel we’ve been approaching security in a really smart way. Nothing can be perfect. I think everybody acknowledges that, but we’re trying to make it as safe and trustworthy for our customers as possible.'”

“According to Bereskin, Apple has issued 44 security updates since Mac OS X was introduced in March 2001, and 3 percent of those were classified critical — a vulnerability that can be exploited remotely. The Help Viewer and Disk vulnerabilities are examples. By comparison, Microsoft issued 78 security updates in the same period, and 65 percent were critical, Bereskin noted,” Kahney reports. “‘Certainly no single operating system can be completely secure from all threats, but most people we talk to, most of the security experts we work with closely, agree that because Mac OS X has a Unix BSD core, it lands up being more secure than other platforms, certainly more than Microsoft,’ Bereskin said.

“Ngozi Pole is systems administrator for Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts), whose office runs the only Mac operation on Capitol Hill. Pole administers about 60 Macs and a couple of PCs. ‘(The Senate) got hit pretty hard by a worm recently,’ he said. ‘When that happened they had to shut a lot of computers down to isolate the problem. Kennedy’s office was functioning normally during that time.

70 Comments

  1. This is good news. Finally Apple is starting to “press the flesh” about its underlying security advantage.

    While I am no fan of Teddy (politically) it is great to see someone of his notoriety demonstrate the use of Macs in a strictly office environment. This can only lead to more high profile users.

    Zac

  2. Unless you did the math,

    3 percent of 44 is 1.
    65 percent of 78 is 50.

    Why do they say 3 percent of 44 when it should be said that it is only 1 critical problem!!!

  3. bad move. apple has never said it doesn’t have virus or any crap because it knows it can have them, except people just don’t bother. this *may* stir up some new scares.

  4. Do the math : less than two vulnerabilities critical for Mac since March 2001 versus 50 for Windows in the same period. Now do the math again: how many actual vulnerabilities got exploited in Macdom? ZERO? How many Windows machines suffered a successful attack? Hundreds of thousands. How many suffered a successful penetration and don’t even know it?

    If you are on XP, are you fully aware of what’s in your computer and what’s it doing? If you’re not sure then you’d better check your credit card or bank statements closely. In fact, you’d better wear a butt-plug.

  5. the typical mac user is different from the typical pc user. mac users are more savvy and less likely to open anything suspicious.

    mac users tend to be more educated, make more money, and take more responsibility in our computer usage.

    can there be hacks on the OS X platform? certainly, no platform is 100% secure. but it is also the USER that makes a computer secure.

    when will people realize its a combination of crappy code (microsoft) and user error (idiot pc users) that propogate virus’, trojans and worms.

  6. what is scary though – but also good – is that a bug for OS X will be a serious bug, and not just some teenage hack.

    it is more difficult to write hacks for OS X due to its architecture and only hardcore programmers will have the savvy to produce, not some cracker-jack pimple face hacker.

    so – we should be worried about bugs on OS X, its not a scare tactic, just being a responsible computer user and promoting secure practices. never assume your safe.

  7. It’s true Mac currently is more secure than Windows, but this is not by virtue of any great leap in inovation by
    the Cupertino gang. They have merely adopted a Unix
    like operating system which has had 30+ years to prove
    itself and plug its’ security holes. Yes, Apple has created
    a fairly easy to use GUI, but this is once again no monumental leap considering GUI environments have been
    available for most Unix distributions for over 10 years.
    Once again they have merely repackaged what others have
    already created. Although Microsoft bashing seems to be
    popular at the moment, with a good deal of it deserved, let
    us not forget the completely unstable and just as unsecure
    environment they abandoned not four years ago…Mac OS 8/9.
    As much as Mac users like to crow about their rock stable and secure environment the adopotion of the Mac OSX operating system by corporate America will probably never
    happen. I wouldn’t crow to loudly as Windows and Sun Microsystems are feeling the sting of competition from
    Linux and the opensource community in general. I really don’t to see any major migration to the Mac OSX platform.
    As much as Apple would like to think it comes under the
    umbrella of the opensource mantra it is still a very
    proprietary operating system.

  8. macadoodle – before the bashing begins as a result of your post, i would like to say your point of view has some merits. i disagree with some of it however. yes UNIX has cut its teeth for over 30 years, so the security of the platform in general is far more superior to windows. however, MS just produces crappy and bloated code, so ALMOST anything will be better than windows.

    yes, GUI’s have been available for UNIX for a decade now (solaris) – but that doesn’t make it easy to use. most UNIX GUI’s are clunky and unfriendly – hell windows is even better i hate to say. what apple is great is innovation of design. they make it work and work better.

    so, now may the rest continue…

  9. addendum to above. NOTE – ALL operating system are proprietary – even linux. any OS that comes in multiple flavors (UNIX, Linux) and/or does not interoperate with other OS’ (everyone) – it’s proprietary. period.

    if an OS was truly ‘OPEN’ it would run windows, mac, linux, solaris, aix, os2 warp and DOS applications NATIVELY. i dont see that happening. so let’s get our definitions accurate.

  10. >let us not forget the completely unstable and just as unsecure environment they abandoned not four years ago…Mac OS 8/9.

    I just gave an IT student a tour of a G4/500 on an early OS 9 and his comments ranged from “fast” to “I can’t do that on Win….” The only bad crash I’ve experienced was triggered by Internet Explorer, which I haven’t used in ages. I’ve also thrown away my antivirus program years ago.

    >I really don’t to see any major migration to the Mac OSX platform.
    Stick around and stay tuned.

  11. Macdoodle (above) states “…let us not forget the completely unstable and just as [insecure] environment they abandoned not four years ago…Mac OS 8/9”

    What instability an insecurity?
    By the time OS X rolled out, all previous Mac OSs had a combined number of known viruses of about 50. At that time, MS Windows (all versions) were very quickly zooming past 5,000.

    And in terms of stability, Mac OS 9 can STILL be kept running for months while it is not uncommon to reboot XP once per day.

    Apple went to OS X because they had the foresight to realize that OS 9’s old architecture couldn’t bring their users into 64-bit, bring server-level features and functions to home users, and be more compatible with global standards.

    In general, I fail to see the significance of where anyone was at one point. “Let us not forget that Bill Gates whacked-off into his athletic socks at age 12.” What’s the point? Concentrate where each OS stands TODAY!! …and where will they be in the near future.

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