Symantec: 10,866 new Microsoft Windows virus and worm variants in first half 2005

“Symantec has attacked the perceived security advantages of Firefox and Apple Macs by drawing unfavourable comparisons with Microsoft’s software and describing Mac fans as living in a ‘false paradise,'” John Leyden reports for The Register.

MacDailyNews Note: We’ve already commented on the Mac aspect of the Symantec report on Friday, September 9th: ZDNet Australia publishes latest Mac OS X security FUD article

Leyden continues, “Malicious code threats to privacy and confidentiality increased rapidly in the first six months of 2005 – up 48 per cent on the back half of 2004. Virus writers upped their production lines to release 10,866 new Windows virus and worm variants in the first six months of this year, Symantec reports… Malware that exposes confidential user information represented three-quarters (74 per cent) of the top 50 malicious code samples received by Symantec. Seven of the top 50 were linked to the creation of botnets. Websites that specialise in distributing source code and tools for malicious bots and botnets helped fuel the creation of multiple copies of Spybot with 6,361 new variants of the malware created in the first half of 2005, a 48 per cent increase over the 4,288 new variants documented in the second half of 2004.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: If 2005 virus and worm outbreaks were football (soccer) goals, Microsoft Windows would be “winning” 10,866 to Apple Mac OS X’s 0 (zero) at half time. An insurmountable deficit, to be sure. By the way, Symantec’s credibility with Mac users is also 0 (zero). They would still like to sell you anti-virus packages though, but, no, sorry, they don’t cost $0 (zero). So, there you have it: Windows racks up tens of thousands of viruses, worms, and other assorted malware during the first half of 2005 to accompany their already-existing hundred thousand+ catalog of “Greatest Windows Malware Hits,” Apple’s Mac OS X still has 0 (zero), but Symantec wants to makes sure you buy their Mac anti-virus software anyway.

What will Symantec do for an encore? Will they attempt to sell ski parkas to Singaporeans after first issuing press releases that accuse them of ignorantly living in a “false paradise” and ignoring the massive potential for snow?

Mac OS X users understand the need for Mac anti-virus software: To identify and remove harmless-to-Macs, harmful-to-Windows malware in order to be good network citizens. And to be ready, just in case. Mac OS X users are not complacent, just unaffected to date – for over five years and counting.

Advertisement: The new Mac Mini. With Mac OS X Tiger. Still starting at $499. Free shipping from The Apple Store.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
ZDNet Australia publishes latest Mac OS X security FUD article – September 9, 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: ‘Opener’ is not a virus, Trojan horse, or worm – November 02, 2004

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
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
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
Defending Windows over Mac a sign of mental illness – December 21, 2003
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
Virus and worm problems not just due to market share; Windows inherently insecure vs. Mac OS X – August 24, 2003


  1. I do dislike Symantec as a business – too much like poacher and gamekeeper at the the same time for my liking.

    In the bad dark days as a Windows user I used to begrudge paying them my annual subscription.. Those days are over as I stepped over into the glowing sunlight and sweet flower smelling, bird calling world of Macintosh. Productivity is high, maintenance low and security concerns -still- nil.

  2. “Mac OS X users understand the need for Mac anti-virus software: To identify and remove harmless-to-Macs, harmful-to-Windows malware in order to be good network citizens.”

    There is no way I will spend my hard-earned money to protect fools from their own stupidity!

  3. Norton Antivirus does not search for Windows viruses on a Mac so it wouldn’t do anyone any good anyways. Mac users are good citizens as we use OSX which can’t be infected without an admin password to install malicious software. Get off of Windows and stop the virus writers from getting there kicks.

  4. There is 2 reasons for the security paradigm between Mac and Windows. I call it as below…

    Security through Obscurity – of course we have some protection because our installed user-base is smaller than that of Windows, but then of course, we have to take into account that we also have a Unix-based system, which has had security as a design priority since day one. Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson made security a major priority from the get go, of course this does not mean that Unix is perfect in regards to security because crackers (not hackers; who are in fact the good guys), can always find ways to trick the system for their onslaught of malicious intent.

    Insecurity through Inferiority – is the premise for Microsoft and its Windows operating system. Microsoft designed Windows to live in a perfect world (which does not exist), heck you don’t have to look very hard to see what undermines Windows and its security problems (ActiveX anyone). Of course the other reason Windows is attack so often remains in the fact that Microsoft is a well hated company for its past, present and future evil doings and crackers feel that they’re the unsung heros trying to fight for the freedom of computing for all. This is why you see less attacks on other type systems.

    I think if any computer users wants the best computer security all around, you need to choose the least popular system on the planet. It has its advantages.


    The more diverse and heterogeneous we make the computer world, the better!

  5. “Virus writers upped their production lines to release 10,866 new Windows virus and worm variants in the first six months of this year”

    and how exactly does Symantec know.. ah well never mind.

  6. I’m pretty sceptical now about the numbers published for Windows. How much of a variant does a variant need to be to be considered as a new number ? Is the same thing with a different filename a variant ?

    How many real new vulnerabilities are there ? Maybe it’s only 50. That’s 50 too many maybe, but still less scary (as Dave H points out, it’s all about propogating fear)

  7. Anyone who has ever used any of the Norton software packages for Windows knows that Symantec is the leading producer of malware for PCs.

    MW: others, as in Symantec leads all others in crippling your Windows experience (even Microsoft!).

  8. Of course this is all FUD. Remember, Symantec employs a CTO that, when asked what the next big scare on the internet is, replied “it’s all those archaic DEC PDP/11 that people are plugging into the internet for the first time”.

    Does this guy not realize that they run VMS? They have an even smaller chance of being penetrated than your typical OSX box.

    A certain hacker conference won’t even let the VMS team enter a box anymore – because it’s impossible to penetrate.

    Moral of the story: Symantec (and it’s CTO) are FUD-spewing techno-idiots.

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