Cyber-security adviser uses Apple Macintosh to avoid Windows’ security woes

“For the first half of the year, anti-virus research company Symantec reported 1237 new online security vulnerabilities – an average of 48 a week. Nearly all those vulnerabilities, about 97 per cent, were considered moderate or highly severe, and 70 per cent were considered easy to exploit,” Paul Brislen reports for The New Zealand Herald. “There is a growing online threat to businesses, their intellectual property and their good name if they don’t take the appropriate security measures.”

Brislen then goes on to describe the problems of running a Windows PC and writes, “Users are spending more time taking care of their PCs instead of taking care of business… Firewalls and anti-virus protection are no longer enough to keep confidential information out of the hands of competitors or fraudsters.”

Brislen concludes, “Perhaps the final word should go to Richard Clarke, the cyber-security adviser appointed by former US President Bill Clinton. Clarke, who toured New Zealand recently, said he has managed to protect his computer from more than 99 per cent of all known viruses, worms, network attacks and spyware. He runs an Apple [Macintosh], not a Microsoft PC, and says that does the job nicely.”

Full article here.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Information Security Investigator says switch from Windows to Mac OS X for security – September 24, 2004
USA Today: people are switching from Windows to Mac because of security issues – September 21, 2004
The Motley Fool: Windows viruses, Apple iPod’s ‘Halo Effect’ may drive switch from Windows to Mac OS X – September 21, 2004
Gartner VP: Windows is the biggest beta test the world has ever known – September 20, 2004
Windows besieged by hackers; number of Windows viruses soars by more than 400% – September 20, 2004
Review: Windows XP SP2 ‘remains leaky, profoundly unsafe on the internet’ – September 17, 2004
Wall Street Journal’s Mossberg: ‘The single most effective way to avoid viruses and spyware is to simply chuck Windows altogether and buy an Apple Macintosh’ – September 16, 2004


  1. This is now beyond a joke really. The computer industry as a whole is in a state of war and it really is time either Windows was fixed or people made use of their consumer choice.

    People who have just bought a computer or bought one in the last 6-9 months are NOT going to switch to a Mac. And people that have bought PC’s for years and upgrade are not going to buy a Mac either.

    It’s time Apple started advertising the “Virus Free” state of it’s computers.

    WARNING though. As soon as too many people buy Mac’s the virus creaters WILL find a way through – it is just a matter of time!

  2. Ref:

    If, as you say, there is safety in obscurity then may you always be in the happy minority. That is, you have no faith in Apple’s OS X.

    However, if OS X is inherently more secure than Windows then I hope that you like crowds.

  3. dude – i want as many ppl as possible to buy Macs – i’ve been mac since the good ole SE30 days.
    Mac’s in any shape or form are better than Windows based equivalents.

    I have quite a bit of faith in the Mac OS. It is however naive to think it is sooooooooo completely secure that once 90% of the worlds computer virus programmers have turned their attention to the Mac OS that it would stay impregnable.

    I hope and pray that it is – it’s just our smugness would seem a bit misplaced if one appeared tomorrow lol

  4. Ref: way to create viruses for OS X are well known. This is not the issue: not technically difficult. What has not been found yet (and since OS X is rooted on FreeBSD Unix) it is likely that it is NOT around the corner. After all BSDUnix is around since way longer than OS X and an effective spreading method there has not been found either for inherent characteristic of Unix.

    If it does not spread it is not a virus, it is a joke. That is why you do not see any around. Not worth to let them out in the wild.

    Unix is not 100% safe but you do not get the avalanche effect you have with Windows. On Windows once you find a way to crack one incarnation you are pretty confident that ANY Windows out there will be infected as well.

    When you write a virus for Unix you do not have that: you cannot even be sure it is going to infect the Unix platform of your colleague sharing the office with you. The combination of configuration parameter varies wildly.

    Crackers do love Windows because not only is an easy target but – most important – does not present the problem of inventing a way to spread. It does it all by itself: Mission accomplished.

  5. And the myth of security via obscurity might have been worth to discuss about before OS X.
    Now we are talking about Unix: of which obscurity are pundits talking about? IT IS UNIX, nothing obscure nor not widely present on the net.

    What might be obscure is the amount of knowledge that crackers might be lacking but even not willing to acquire for the lack of spreading: one of the most effective Linux virus infected some 6000 (six thousands) PC worldwide. Are you joking? What interest in doing that? Windows gets infected by the thousands by the hour.

    And nope, it is not for lacking of machines on the net: after all Apple counts some 15 millions OS X connected (data of some time ago: they might be 20 Mil now). The count of Unix platforms out there is way higher than that.

    Microsoft would be in similar situation if a virus written for Windows 95 had no chance to infect a W98 machine or a W2k, or Windows ME, or Windows XP. Unfortunately, in the wise move of canning fundamentally the same product with different name, a virus written for Windows ANY flavor infects Windows of ALL flavors because the exploitable code is present on them all.

  6. In addition to that, OS X shields against known Unix backdoors in that by default it comes with all daemons and ports closed. Hence it is even more *closed* than the corresponding average FreeBSD platform.

    Last, to write a virus for Windows you do not need technical and programming capabilities. Even the most recent JPEG security flaw is covered by applications – freely downloadable off the net – that allow the user to select options, have the virus written, and release it on the net, without having wrote a single line of code. It is that easy: just google for “Virus Windows kit”: plenty of pages to turn the most ignorant Windows user out there into the most dangerous virus writer of the planet.

    Only fear or repercussions – after all you go to jail if caught – prevents a new virus every hour. Still, there has been a 400% increase of new virus variants for Windows since last year. Are you so naive to think that it is due to more knowledgeable software professional turned into criminal?
    Nope, there are simply more bot and kits out there daily.

    Amazing right? so much so that I – everytime – show the casual Windows user the proof (in google) because – so far – no one ever believed me by my own words. But the word of mouth has started.

  7. see i agree with all that but i still think Mac users need to be careful.

    Microsoft took no care to make sure their systems were as “Safe” as possible because until the “first” virus or trogan or whatever Windows or DOS had been safe.

    You wait – there will be a virus or trogan or something similar that will appear for the Mac/Unix. once this happens it will become easier – by degrees – to hack and attack the Mac’s.

    To think so is to stick your head in the sand. Apple can put as many guards and protections in place and i applaud them for it.

    There is still the issue of the number of systems out there. Why spend the time and effort creating a virus for an OS that hasn’t been cracked and is way hard – when there is a simple system to attack which will affect the majority. This argument can still be used as the Mac/Unix community is in the minority.

  8. Interesting, isn’t it, that even though Mr Brislen’s ‘final word’ pretty much hands a solution to the virus scourge on a silver plate, he can’t quite bring himself to add it to the bullet points in the summary.

    ie. Operatiing system flaws – change yours to one that isn’t riddled with them

    It’s almost like Mac is the love that dare not speak its name.

  9. Wow, talking about easy-to-make viruses, on…
    …scroll down just a bit to “Random Anarchy HTML Constructor”. This is an HTML-based virus creator. In theory, you can have your own website where people visit to custom make their own viruses!!

    It doesn’t get much easier than this.
    Well, perhaps you can use this to auto-generate random viruses. In theory, you could flood the internet with 100 NEW VIRUSES PER SECOND! Imagine a computer set up to do this non-stop 24/7?

    Just a theory.

  10. Ref: “You wait – there will be a virus or trogan or something similar that will appear for the Mac/Unix. once this happens it will become easier – by degrees – to hack and attack the Mac’s”

    Sorry Ref, makes no sense. You are still in the mindframe of “it is as easy to create viral infection on Unix as it is on Windows. Windows sees more because there are more platforms running it”

    Ref: it is not the presence on the net that allows for viruses. It is the flaws of the OS.

    Unix in general has all the open source developers in the world whose main interest is to make it more secure and more efficient.

    You seems to forget that Unix and Linux have seen already the *first viruses or trojan or similar” appearing and with time it has been MORE difficult to get another one, not easier.

    OS X is not the last kid in the block: it enjoys decades of fine tuning BSDUnix and make it more secure. Your scenario is unlikely to happen because it happened before and the sw community little by little made Unices more secure.

    BEFORE Windows there were viruses for Unix and the community (Unix was born and developed in research labs and Universities) was already working to make it more difficult to spread infections. Then Windows came and crackers – within months – started to flock on Windows.

    Viruses for Windows were aplenty even when Windows was run by a very small percentage of market share. The very story of computer viruses pertaining to Windows shows that market share has little to nothing to do with it.

  11. “It’s almost like Mac is the love that dare not speak its name.”
    [Lord Alfred Douglas coined the phrase “The love that dare not speak its name” in his poem ‘Two Loves’, which was printed in the Chameleon in 1894. Lord Douglas, “Alfie”, was Oscar Wilde’s much younger lover.]

    Interesting analogy, drhufufur.

    Both loves are seen about 3% in the corporate world but are more like 10% visible in the home.

  12. To paraphrase you: Why crackers then wasted time with Windows when it was a small percentage on the net and abandoned the vastly greater market of Unix at the time?

    Because of effort and result:

    Unix: lots of effort for minimal spread
    Windows: minimal effort for lots of spread

    Market share has been the icing and the cherry on an already made pie.

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