Windows XP SP2 a coat of paint on a rusty car; Apple’s Mac OS X much safer

“Microsoft made noises about security in Service Pack 1, and with Windows XP when it was first released several years ago. The promises have had a hollow sound, in part because ever since those products were released, Microsoft has been issuing one ‘critical update’ after another, plugging this security hole and that security hole,” Dan Gillmor writes for The Mercury News. “But there’s no question that the company with an operating-system monopoly is finally confronting the scandalous quality — at least in terms of safety — of its products, a reality that has been a constant pain to users and threatened to have an impact on the bottom line. (I, for one, keep wondering why the trial lawyers haven’t noticed the target Windows must surely represent.)”

“Unfortunately, due to the basic nature of Windows — even XP, which is definitely sturdier than its predecessors — Microsoft’s efforts to make it safer remind me of the old days when I owned a car in snow country. You can’t paint over rust and expect the car to last,” Gillmor writes. “This is one reason why I continue to prefer my Macintosh computer, which is my primary machine for everyday use. The Mac operating system, OS X, is based on a form of Unix. It’s relatively secure but not absolutely safe, either. But Apple has been more careful to make the default settings less open to troublemakers.”

“There’s little doubt, of course, that if Macs suddenly had Windows’ market share, the malevolent hacker community would turn to the Mac for their nasty kicks. But for basic architectural reasons, it seems at least probable that the bad guys would have a somewhat more difficult time making trouble if the Mac was the target,” Gillmor writes.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: For our Windows-only friends, information about smoothly adding a Mac OS X machine to your computing arsenal can be found here.

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New York Times: Mac OS X ‘much more secure than Windows XP’ – September 18, 2003
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  1. Hey… not a bad article. I like. And exactly my view on OSX Security – partially the whole security through obscurity, but also because it is harder to hack.

    Now gotta run to church!

  2. I switched my primary computer to Mac and OSx in March of 2002, and I haven’t lost an hour since to any sort of computer trouble.

    Not so with the Windows machines in the office – which have been down for what must total weeks in the 2 and a half years since I switched.

    In November of 2004, our last Windows machine will be taken off line.

    Goodbye to one of the most critical liabilities and dangers faced by any business – Windows is a toilet that will suck hours, days and data right down to the sewer.

    Mac only for us from November on!

  3. Reminds me of the Dutch Boy with his finger in the dike — only XP has 22 leaks — one more than the kid can handle even if he were a contortionist. Someone should make a cartoon out of this.

  4. Hansje Brink… yes… I am so grateful to that boy! He kept me from drowning! ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” /> Whomever came up with that silly story….

  5. A painted turd is still a turd.

    Of course “Longhorn” is going to be much more secure and better looking OS.

    Then what will us Mac users have over PC users then?

    Reality sucks I know.

  6. sjk, nice site, thanks. Also the conclusion is something I have written on this site again and again: ” If you were to enumerat what constitutes “Unix” today, you would get maddening diversity: in architectures interfaces, flavors, distributions, and many more. Even apparently similar Uni systems, such as two Linux distributions, might be different enough to warran considerable extra “work”, if an attacker were to create (the easy part) and deplo (the hard part), say, a virus. Creating malware, as we have seen, is a technica problem, easily solved on any platform. Spreading malware involves operational an situational issues, which are apparently less of an obstacle on Windows than any other platform.”

    The difficult part is not writing a virus, it is spreading it. On Windows it happens very easily, on other OS the effort is too big and the result is marginal (wrt Windows spreading).

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