Motley Fool writer: ‘I’d be surprised if Symantec ever sells a single product to a Mac user again’

“Poor Symantec. Not only does it have to contend with competition direct from Mr. Softy himself, but it can’t even get a little love from the Apple crowd. It may be cut off for good,” Seth Jayson writes for The Motley Fool. “In fact, I’d be surprised if Symantec ever sells a single product to a single Mac user again. You see, Symantec had the cheek to suggest that Mac’s OSX operating system may not be completely flawless. I’m as shocked as you are. Steve Jobs, fallible? Get me my gun.”

Jayson writes, “True, Symantec has a vested interest in selling its security products, and any report aimed at scaring customers ought to be viewed with some skepticism. But it’s also true that the Mac’s mythically bulletproof security benefits from the same kind of relative obscurity that made Mayberry so safe. Yes, Andy was a fine cop, but on the other hand, with so little potential for payoff, there isn’t a lot of incentive for criminal elements — like hackers — to try to drop by. Especially when Microsoft’s Windows continues to make for such easy pickins.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s our opinion that Symantec has more than a little to gain by throwing a bucket of cold water on Mac OS X. Have you seen the misinformed headlines screaming about viruses hitting Mac OS X and other such tripe due to Symantec’s idiotic junk “report?” Some samples:

• Symantec: increasing attacks on Mac OS
• How long before Apple’s OS X becomes Microsoft Windows?
• Symantec Says Mac Virus, Hacker Attacks Increasing
• Macintosh attacks on the rise
• Is Macintosh really safer than Windows?

How many people skimming those headlines are sick and tired of dealing with Windows and just might have considered a Mac, but won’t due to the misinformation floating through syndication channels for the past few days?

The more people stuck with the porous Windows, the better for a dike-plugger like Symantec, no? 68,736 (and counting) Microsoft Windows viruses vs. zero for Apple Mac’s OS X can’t be overlooked or explained away with obscurity myths, Mr. Jayson. Zero viruses for Mac OS X, as in, none, zilch, nada. Again, if Symantec thinks that we’re going to forget about their bullshit FUD report, they’re sadly mistaken.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Symantec cries wolf with misplaced Mac OS X ‘security’ warning – March 23, 2005
Symantec’s Mac OS X claims dismissed as nonsense, FUD – March 22, 2005
Symantec warns about Mac OS X security threat – March 21, 2005
68,736 Microsoft Windows viruses vs. zero for Apple Mac’s OS X – March 12, 2005
Mac OS X has no viruses; what’s wrong with Windows? – February 11, 2004


  1. I don’t get the argument that OS X doesn’t make a good target for hackers/viruses since it has low market share. Seems like that a hacker/virus would get pretty significant media time and “prestige” in Hackerland if they penetrated the impenetrable Macintosh or wiped out users $10K iTunes library. OS X’s code is just written on a firmer base than Windows but I don’t think it’s perfect. Symantec is a joke and so is Reuters and other media outlets that pickup on their hype. For all of these increased hacker attacks the mention, how about an example of a successful one??

  2. This is all BS as virus/worm writers will generally write something for anything they can. Just look at recent worms or script kiddie tools to take advantage of things like security issues in web applications like phpBB or AWStats, these are not used on millions of web sites, but someone felt it was enough of them out there to write something to take advantage of the issues in them. AWStats probably does not hold multiple percentage points of the web log analysis market, but yet sites are constantly being scanned to see if they are running a version with issues… I can see the attempts all day against both AWStats and phpBB in our intrusion prevention system… or the 10’s of thousands of worm attempts against MS-SQL the “slammer/saphire worm”, just scans IP addresses over and over again from infected MS-SQL servers to infect other ones… it accounts for 90% of blocked traffic currently in the intrusion prevention system… There have been a number of security issues in recent times where Apple has released security updates, there are more than enough MacOS client systems running that could be targeted… more than there are web sites again running AWStats or phpBB, or Mambo, or phpNuke, or hundreds of other web applications… while these are not OS issues but web applications, it just the point that there don’t have to be 10’s of millions of users of something to be a target… yet MacOS X is not targeted… ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

  3. Most software used on webservers is not produced by Microsoft, it is unix based and virtually virus free – very very hard to crack, yet it is very prevalent. No obscurity and no viruses. Yet whenever I hear OSX and its resistance to viruses how come it is always put down to market share?

  4. JFK’s Head:

    Sometime ago I read a claim by a programmer that writing a virus for OS X is 9.5 on the scale you suggested. I have not seen a claim for Windoze, but 1.5 sounds about right. Sorry, I cannot recall where I came across this information.

  5. JFK Head:

    Dificulty writing Virus and worms for OS X:
    I saved something written by a UNIX and Windows programmer my link to the macworld forum post doesnt work anymore so sorry for not given credit to the guy who wrote the following:
    Creating a UNIX “virus” would require the writer to muck with program text and data segment pointers, and change the program initialization pointer from the “crt0.o” equivalent to something else. The degree of difficulty here is at least 9.5 on a scale of 1-10… even if you do have the source to the runtime invocation routines. Then, to screw up the system, you have to attain root privileges from within the attached routines in that user-privileged program, which is indeed quite a bit harder. It’s not impossible with the default OS X install, but it ain’t easy. The easiest way to defeat this is to create a root account with a scrambled password on EVERY *NIX system you use, and that includes OS X.
    Writing a UNIX “worm” is easier. Any program can create a detached process. BUT, the same issues with user-level vs. root permissions exist. Worms will run on properly protected systems, but they may never be able to attain the privileges necessary to do significant damage.
    Now, these are not easy tasks. It’s much easier to write a simple script that fools Windows into thinking that an offending program is actually something the user wants to run. Windows does NOT have user-level protections – and that’s why viruses and worms are so easy to invoke on Windows.
    Lastly: each task on a *NIX program runs in its own virtual memory space. Programs running within these virtual spaces are not allowed to “touch” devices or other system resources. Instead, programs make requests to the system for system resources. Even the graphics subsystem runs as a task under OS X. Hence, a “buffer overflow” within the OS X desktop would cause the desktop to crash and restart, but shouldn’t cause any other problems.
    Another thing: Points given to Hackers at the 2003 Meeting was:
    1 point for a Windows Hack
    3 points for a Linux Hack
    and 5 points for a Mac OS X !
    So assuming that more points are given to a more difficult hack, we might say that it is 5 times harder to hack OS X than windows

  6. Excellent points Xavier…

    My only concern is that if Symantec is willing to go this far… I wontder if they will CREATE a need for their software… if you get my drift (for those who are inferring impaired… I mean they make a virus and we need them – or something as dastardly).

  7. Mac God

    Hmmm why not? The only reason is that there are people outside of symantec that are smarter than anyone inside. A few. Same goes for MS. Why doesn’t MS start writing virii like mad for XP and then none for Longhorn.. Longhorn will look like a fortress of security.

    The problem is that, there are smarter people, so if someone was caught (inevitable) the consequences would be dire.

    If Symantec was caught writing viruses, they would be burned. If MS was caught writing viruses they would burn also.

    It’s just too risky.

    Besides.. With Windows there’s a legitimate need for anti-virus.. why go to all the trouble for a measly Mac marketshare.. when you can just make stuff up.

    After all.. they can’t slam you for rhetoric and heresay, can they?

  8. Also, do not forget that the CEO of Symantec once said:

    “The OS wars are over. Microsoft has won”.

    I got a C- in Women’s Studies. That course wasn’t what I expected!

  9. Mac God. I wonder who actually produced the “proof of concept” viruses and worms last year? It probably wasn’t an anti-virus software company but at the very least they really jumped on them and hyped them when they came out even if they never damaged even one computer in the whole wide world.

    I still think one of the contributing reasons that you don’t see Mac viruses is because you really have to know the system to write a virus for it. And in getting to know OS X, they fall in love with it and lose all motivation for doing the platform harm. Windows, on the other hand, well we all know how people generally feel about that.


    They stand for FUD and poor quality.

    In APPLE and JOBS we TRUST.

    QUALITY will OUT.

    No other advice needed really. Gradually, the world is learning this.

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