Cargo magazine describes Apple’s Mac OS X’s immunity to viruses, spyware as ‘relative’

Cargo magazine’s October 2005 issue looks at 2005’s laptops and chooses the Apple iBook G4 as a portable they considered among “the best in several categories, on the basis of performance, portability, and design, among other criteria,” writes Cargo’s Mark Spoonauer.

Cargo’s description of Apple’s iBook G4:

With its handy iLife multimedia suite, innovative Tiger operating system (we love the quick Spotlight desktop search engine), sexy casing, and relative immunity to viruses and spyware, the iBook is the laptop of choice if you want to simplify your computing – and look good doing it. One thing we miss: the hottest new PC games.

Cargo magazine’s October 2005 issue is not yet online, but is available at newsstands now. Cargo’s website is:

MacDailyNews Take: We agree with Cargos’ blurb, right down to the “games” comment – if you want games, get a console – but, we have one objection which you can probably guess: the use of the word “relative” when describing Apple’s Mac OS X Tiger’s operating system’s immunity to viruses and spyware. Why are we pointing it out? Simply because most people reading that would come away with the misunderstanding that Mac OS X might have some viruses and spyware when, in fact, Mac OS X has zero (0) viruses and spyware to date.

Oxford Dictionary definition:
rel•a•tive |ˈrelətiv| adjective: considered in relation or in proportion to something else • existing or possessing a specified characteristic only in comparison to something else; not absolute.

Apple’s Mac OS X’s immunity to viruses and spyware is an absolute, and has been for five years now. There are no viruses and spyware for Mac OS X. Since Mac OS X is immune to viruses and spyware, Cargo’s description fails to explain Mac OS X’s immunity correctly and, as such, fails their readers.

Cargo’s description would have better served their readership if they had simply left out the word “relative” altogether. We make a point of this not to nitpick, but because this is a common issue with reviews of Mac OS X; we don’t know if writers are somewhat uninformed (such reviewers obviously know that Macs have “less” viruses and spyware issues, at least), can’t quite believe that, to date, Mac OS X is completely immune from viruses and spyware, or something else.

No qualification is necessary and inserting the word “relative” muddies the issue unnecessarily. To date, Mac OS X is absolutely immune to viruses and spyware.

Cargo can be contacted here:

Related MacDailyNews articles:
ZDNet Australia publishes latest Mac OS X security FUD article – September 09, 2005
Hackers already targeting viruses for Microsoft’s Windows Vista – August 04, 2005
16-percent of computer users are unaffected by viruses, malware because they use Apple Macs – June 15, 2005
ZDNet: How many Mac OS X users affected by the last 100 viruses? None, zero, not one, not ever – August 18, 2005
Intel CEO Otellini: If you want security now, buy a Macintosh instead of a Wintel PC – May 25, 2005
Apple touts Mac OS X security advantages over Windows – April 13, 2005
97,467 Microsoft Windows viruses vs. zero for Apple Mac’s OS X – April 05, 2005
Joke of the month: Gartner warns of Mac OS X ‘spyware infestation’ potential – March 30, 2005
Symantec details flaws in its antivirus software – March 30, 2005
Motley Fool writer: ‘I’d be surprised if Symantec ever sells a single product to a Mac user again’ – March 24, 2005
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
Apple’s Mac OS X is virus-free – March 18, 2005
Cybersecurity advisor Clarke questions why anybody would buy from Microsoft – February 18, 2005
Security test: Windows XP system easily compromised while Apple’s Mac OS X stands safe and secure – November 30, 2004
Apple: ‘Opener’ is not a virus, Trojan horse, or worm – November 02, 2004
Microsoft: The safest way to run Windows is on your Mac – October 08, 2004
Information Security Investigator says switch from Windows to Mac OS X for security – September 24, 2004
Columnist tries the ‘security through obscurity’ myth to defend Windows vs. Macs on virus front – October 1, 2003
New York Times: Mac OS X ‘much more secure than Windows XP’ – September 18, 2003
Fortune columnist: ‘get a Mac’ to thwart viruses; right answer for the wrong reasons – September 02, 2003
Shattering the Mac OS X ‘security through obscurity’ myth – August 28, 2003
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  1. I assume they meant “relative” as in “zero is smaller than 100,000 relatively speaking” – but yes, they should have been clearer.

    “Immunity” I think carries a connotation of “absolute” and that’s not correct for OS X (or any operating system). Macs are “vulnerable” in a theoretical sense. I (and most folks here, I’m sure) believe that the degree of vulnerability is far less due to superior design and also believe that the “smaller target” argument is demonstrably wrong because while there are smaller numbers, they’re far higher value targets in terms of bragging rights for the first person to release even a moderately successful OS X virus into the wild.

  2. Don’t get CARGO wrong… They love APPLE and every single thing that APPLE does.
    When it comes to being picky about the word “relative.” I understand, but nontheless, everything is “relative” indeed…
    For example, even if you own a MAC, you can be subject of some “minor hacking” if you don’t know how to restrict your “bonjour” connection! I mean, I access most of my friends MACs because they don’t know that their sharing feature is on. From that point of view, I understand that CARGO is being careful with what they say, and want to warn people that even if you are on MAC, your use of your computer is “relative!” ( ^_- )

  3. does anyone actually play cutting edge/high resource games on a laptop? I would have thought those required a big monitor, a proper mouse & keyboard, and your mother’s basement.

    I have MacMame and Scrabble on my Powerbook and get along just fine.

    /not a ‘gamer’
    //have a life beyond my computer

  4. “Relative” is clearly the wrong word based upon its definition and does muddy the issue. Subtle things like this (and many not-so-subtle things) negatively affect the Mac platform’s growth. MDN is “absolutely” correct to point out Cargo’s error.

  5. This coming Tuesday (on September 13, 2000 the first OS X beta was publicly released) will mark 5 full years of Mac OS X with ZERO viruses.

    By contrast, Windows Longhorn/Vista wasn’t even out in beta form for 5 hours before the first viruses for it were on the loose in the wild.

  6. Tuner

    amazingly, it came free in a cereal box. In Canada they ran some promotion with free games CDs a few years ago. I don’t know if it also ran in the states.

    I don’t have my laptop with me so i cannot check the version but it boots in OS 9, and seems to have some primitive network capabilities. It features “Maven”, the frustratingly good AI opponent.

    it is a fantastic way to kill an hour.

  7. Woo! First Post!

    When will people learn that OS X is all powerful and immune to all viruses and spyware? These so called reporters and journalists that continue to report falsities just reaffirm my belief that people in general are stupid. (Except Mac users of course)

  8. Something that I feel should be mentioned here is that when it comes down to reviews and the reviewers it should be noted that, depending on the magazine, who advertises or more specific who are the advertisers.

    It is they that pay the majority of print run costs for publications and the newstand price not only goes towards this, but allows for special offers, ever wondered why there are free givaways when you take out a subscription or a special reduced price?

    Now that is relative!

    MW: ‘ill’ as in it makes you sick to read an article and have to break it for ads in between pages.

  9. “For example, even if you own a MAC”

    Hey Paul, and anyone else who has the peculiar habit of capitalising all the letters in Mac… If your computer has ethernet, then you have a MAC, even if you are a Windows or Linux user… MAC address, that is… “MAC” is an acronym for Medium Access Control…

    “Mac” is short for Macintosh.

    It’s not rocket surgery, after all. It’s the English language… Isn’t it misused enough as it is already?

  10. As a physician, I know a bit about immunity. A newborn mammal is born with it’s mother’s immunity, but this is temporary. As this temporary immunity is lost, the mammal develops “relative” immunity to specific agents only after exposure to the affending agents. A computer system that sits in a vacuum with no offending viruses, cannot be consider immune – it just hasn’t been challenged yet. As a Mac user since 1984, I appreciate your enthusiasm for the Mac, but the Mac is not “absolutely” immune. As do mammals, the Mac OS will have continue to be adapted to future malevolent challenges, adjusting it’s “relative” immune defense. It doesn’t pay to be too smug or too righteous, even if the Mac is a great product.

  11. jt: OSX has been, and is being challenged all the time.

    With 16 million copies out there, there is no possibility that it could NOT have been.

    But I take your point that anything is possible, but as someone said, Vista was attacked successfully in 5 hours. So, yes, some things are relative, ESPECIALLY the comparison between Vista and OSX, one “relatively horrible”, and one “relatively great.”

    Just because some one has the title of “journalist”, as a reader, you should do your own research and come to your own conclusions about everything. And NO, getting a Journalism degree from an “established” university has no bearing on whether you will, or will not do adequate research, in my experience.

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