Symantec’s Mac OS X claims dismissed as nonsense, FUD

“Symantec’s claim that Apple’s OS X will soon attract more attention from hackers has been dismissed as nonsense, and worse,” Dan Ilett writes for ZDNet UK. “Symantec has sparked outrage by claiming on Monday that the operating system OS X was set to come under increased hacking and malware attacks. In its Internet Security Threat Report, Symantec said that Apple’s userbase was more likely to come under attack, citing Apple’s growing market share and the 37 vulnerabilities that were found in OS X last year — a trend it hinted would continue.”

“But ZDNet UK readers have rebutted Symantec’s claims in a series of angry responses, saying the security company was using marketing tactics of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) to fuel its sales,” Ilett writes. “‘What a load of FUD,’ said one anonymous IT manager. ‘Anyone with the smallest sense of knowledge about any of these operating systems knows that the biggest issue with Windows security is the basic design flaws that it keeps dragging on from its past eras, to ensure compatibility.'”

Full article here.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Symantec warns about Mac OS X security threat – March 21, 2005

38 Comments

  1. Considering how quickly Apple plugs any holes, they have good reason to be loyal adherents to the Mac platform. On the other had those from the Windows aisle are very quick to derisively dimiss Mac users as sychophants for promptly pointing out inaccuracies in reporting. (I suppose so that they have more time to plug the gaping holes in Windows ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”LOL” style=”border:0;” /> )

  2. I don’t doubt that the Mac will draw more attention from hackers – but it is one thing to “attack” a system, and quite another to have your attack be successful. Because of the way the Mac OS is designed I don’t think hackers will be much more successful than they have already been.

  3. As Apple increases its market share, we’re going to see a lot more of this.
    There are an awful lot of people out there whose livelihoods depends on patching up Windows in one way or another.

    People whose livelihoods are threatened get nasty.

  4. Macs did have bigger marketshare previously – and in the more vulnerable OS 9 and earlier, yet they didn’t get much attention from hackers and virus writers then. So why now Symantec? If marketshare is the key, why now, when they have even less than previously? Just because it’s growing? But it’s still less.

  5. There were 37 vulnerabilities. Let’s reiterate: VULNERABILITIES. The truth: Mac is more secure than Windows. The truth you are all missing: Mac can still have vulnerabilities.

    You’re right, we will never be plagued by the millions of viruses and malware that Windows users are. But to claim that we will never be plagued by ANY is WRONG. The vulnerabilities are fewer (so there will be fewer attacks), but they will come…

    Symantec isn’t wrong. They’re just exaggerating.

  6. “Beeble, face it, even with 90% market share, there will never be a Code Red, Melissa, or I Love You virus for OS X.”

    We’ll see. Most malware on the PC relies on naive users opening e-mail attachments. Viruses are spread because of the massive interconnectivity of PCs to each other, something Mac just doesn’t have yet. You could say that the tiny Mac marketshare is a built-in firewall for Mac users. If that changes in any substantial way, then not only will Mac’s high profile attract more malware authors, but the interconnectivity from one Mac to the other will also increase.

    That’s just a reality of modern computing. But the more Mac sycophants continue to insist that such a scenario is virtually impossible, the more Mac users will be vulnerable to attack.

  7. An interesting quote from Symantec in the mentioned article:

    “We’ve found that one of the recent emerging security concerns is around Mac OS X. No Internet user, regardless of which operating system they use, is 100 percent immune from attack. People should not be scared, but they should make sure they are secure.”

    But it seems that Symantec isn’t concerned enough to let anybody know what it is.

    But I’m sure their product will plug the hole!… ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  8. In my opinion, the real issue is that Windows PC’s run from a DOS platform. So long as that’s the case, there will always be kids (and they are almost exclusively kids) writing PC viruses, if only because DOS is terribly easy to learn and can do an incredible amount of damage to a system. UNIX (the Mac base) is inherently much more difficult to master, and thus a much less palatable target for the average hacker.

    this, of course, is only my opinion…

  9. An excellent rebuttal commentary written by ZDNet columnist in Australia is found here:

    http://www.zdnet.com.au/news/security/0,2000061744,39185501,00.htm

    The writer justifiably pegs Symantec for insulting the intelligence of people who buy Macs, rightly points out that 37 Mac OS X vulnerabilities pale in comparison to the 17500 flaws found in Windows during the same time period, and astutely questions Symantec’s motives.

    It’s a good, short read which gets to the point and really sticks it.

  10. I’ve never understood why by ZDnet’s international properties, most notably Australia, love to hammer Apple.

    More FUD and hater columns from a Microsoft shill in the media.

  11. Beeble: nice argument, but actually fallacious and illogical.

    Let’s start with “most malware on the PC relies on naive users…”. Well, it’s true that a lot of viruses and worms spread through e-mail, you completely choose to ignore the adware/spyware that just installs itself because you made the mistake of visiting a site that has pimped itself to earn a few bucks. Does the Macintosh suffer from spyware/adware? No – because Apple didn’t release an OS in which the browser (whichever) could be subverted by simply loading some HTML.

    So onto the next argument, “viruses are spread because of the massive interconnectivity…”. Utter horsepuckey. Domestic/lone SoHo PCs are no more interconnected than their Macintosh equivalents. They might have a modem or some sort of broadband connection, but their only real interconnectivity (same subnet) is probably to a printer, and even that’s more likely to be USB than anything else.

    Here, the protection is simply down to the fact that OS X protects itself with a great firewall that ships with everything turned on as opposed to anything before Windows XP SP2, which either shipped with a compromised firewall or with no firewall whatsoever.

    In truly interconnected businesses that are well-run (like BP), anti-virus definitions are available to the e-mail servers and desktop/laptop clients on a near immediate basis which means that these companies often sail through the worst virus/worm instances. The ones that don’t have their act together – like a certain tobacco company I could name – get screwed and land up having to take down network links at the router in order to stop propagation.

    Another problem for Windows users is that too many of them are a) cheap. b) opportunist and c) too stupid to live. If you’re intellectually challenged enough to load Kazaa on your system, you deserve everything you get and if you believe that installing an illegal copy of Office, Doom or whatever piece of virus-laden freebie software you’ve located on some P2P network is a good idea, you get exactly what you deserve.

    So the actual problem with Windows is a) the operating system, b) the applications and c) an enormous percentage of the users. Apple may have the same problem with the user base (c), but because they dealt properly with (a) and (b), the point is moot.

  12. Did you really read the article in the link?

    It’s a pro-Apple article. The problem is Symantec, not ZDNet. Besides, it was ZDNet UK which came out with the original report, not Australia. The gal in Australia who wrote the rebuttal is “spot on”.

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