USA Today calls iMac G5 ‘exquisite’ but implies Mac OS X more secure than Windows due to obscurity

“A softball tech question: Can you name the innovator whose gorgeously distinctive products earn praise from reviewers and almost cultish devotion from customers? The answer: Apple Computer,” Edward C. Baig writes for USA Today in his article, “New iMac even more exquisite than last one.”

“I suspect lots of Windows users are curious about Macs nowadays — and security is a chief cause. The Windows crowd must feel like residents of Florida — one hurricane after another. The machines appear to be under constant attack from virus writers and purveyors of spyware,” Baig writes. “By contrast, Macs have been largely immune. Just as Willie Sutton was famously quoted as wanting to rob banks because that’s where the money is, the imbeciles who hurl viruses at PCs do so because that’s where the most damage can be inflicted.”

“But you need not fret about security to lust after a Mac, especially one as striking as the brand-new iMac G5 I’ve been testing. It lives up to its billing as the whisper-quiet ‘world’s thinnest desktop computer,'” Baig writes.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Another great review for Apple’s iMac with the exception of Baig’s sideways touching of the long-ago-discounted “security through obscurity” myth. We wish Baig had been more clear about the reasons for Windows’ security woes and Mac’s lack of security problems. As it’s written, Baig’s piece might leave the impression that Windows’ morass of security woes exists because more people use Windows and, conversely, that Macs have no security problems because less people use Macs. That is simply not true. Mac OS X is not more secure than Windows because less people use OS X, making it less of a target. By design, Mac OS X is simply more secure than Windows. Period. Read David Pogue’s mea culpa here for reference. Otherwise the article’s a great read.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
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
Wall Street Journal’s Mossberg on making the switch from Windows to Mac – September 18, 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
SmartMoney: Long-suffering Windows users can only dare to dream of Mac’s ease-of-use – February 12, 2004
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Gartner: Worms jack up the total cost of Microsoft Windows – May 07, 2004
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Mossberg: Dump your Windows machine and get an Apple Macintosh to free yourself of spyware – August 25, 2004
Millions of Windows PC’s hijacked by hackers, turned into zombies; Macintosh unaffected – September 08, 2004
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University of Chicago recommends all students patch Windows at least once a day – September 14, 2004
USA Today columinst angry about Windows viruses, adware, spyware – September 15, 2004
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60 Comments

  1. I think MDN is reading too much into the quote. In fact the author stated that virus writers go after Window boxes “because that’s where the most damage can be inflicted.” Sounds accurate to me. I didn’t see any mention of security by obscurity.

  2. what would you expect from USA Today? USA Today is not know for detailed news, defintely does not have a reputation for performing thorough research. they primary present synopsis news – that’s it.

  3. what would you expect from USA Today? USA Today is not know for detailed news, defintely does not have a reputation for performing thorough research. they primary present synopsis news – that’s it.

  4. I found the article quite well written and with personal touch. And he is right: a virus writer can inflict much more damage when he targets the grey boxes, if he targets a Mac the virus will bounce off with no damage.
    Let’s not be too paranoid!

  5. EVERYONE, READ THE QUOTE AGAIN. USATODAY DID NOT MENTION THAT MACS ARE “more secure than Windows due to obscurity”. Seesh, do most people not read before they post? Wait, don’t answer that…

  6. I sent the following email to him:

    article: “By contrast, Macs have been largely immune. Just as Willie Sutton was famously quoted as wanting to rob banks because that’s where the money is, the imbeciles who hurl viruses at PCs do so because that’s where the most damage can be inflicted.”

    Your argument may seem to make logical sense, but it fails to recognize the inherent security superiority of the Mac platform (Mac OS X), which is built from the ground up to be more secure than Windows.

    1. There is no registry on the Mac. No central way for programs to muck around in your computer. You need administrative access to muck around in the system folder of a Mac and root access to do real damage (root user accounts have to be specially setup to even exist on a Mac).

    2. Any program that wants to add anything to or change anything in the System folder requires a username/password authentication.

    3. No virus exists in the wild on the Mac OS X platform, 4 years and counting. None.

    4. No spyware.

    5. No malware of any kind (adware, bloatware, etc.).

    Mac users are highly connected to the net, many have broadband, and there are over 15 million active users of OS X. So far not one virus, why not? You claim it’s because of “obscurity” but there’s nothing obscure about Apple, it gets as much press as just about any other tech company out there, with the exception of Microsoft, and far more than it’s numbers would suggest.

    If hackers are at it only for exposure, writing the first successful virus for Mac OS X would get a lot of exposure.

    It’s also harder to hack into a default setup Mac OS X machine (it’s never impossible to hack a computer on the internet). No ports are left open and vulnerable like is the case in Windows. You have to open ports, so no hacker can assume that there will be any given specific ports that are left open unless the user opens them.

    Mac OS X is built upon UNIX and has an open source core, which means that security vulnerabilities that are found in the core operating system have a higher chance of being discovered than closed source systems like WIndows (Keep in mind also that the code base for Windows has been becoming impossibly large and unmanageably bloated, leading to much more likely instances of security vulnerabilities).
    (cont)

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