Apple’s Mac OS X “offers inherently better security for several reasons. The most important is that it was designed with relatively little concern for compatibility with earlier versions [for example Mac OS 9], while Windows is full of compromises so that it works with older and less secure operating systems,” Stephen H. Wildstrom writes for BusinessWeek.
“Microsoft’s concern with compatibility, which largely reflects the demands of corporate customers, has resulted in old flaws being carried forward. With last year’s Service Pack 2 for Windows XP, the software giant finally decided that security trumped compatibility, and Windows’ security was improved significantly. But many problems remain and will persist at least until Vista, the next version of Windows, is introduced late next year,” Wildstrom writes.
“Still, all operating systems have vulnerabilities, including OS X. Like Microsoft, Apple issues a monthly set of security patches to plug the holes. The big difference is that actual exploits of Mac vulnerabilities have been extremely rare, and that suggests a lack of interest by attackers. A few years ago, OS X probably would have come under attack just for the challenge of it. But all the evidence suggests that these days, the ablest writers of viruses, spyware, and worms, are motivated more by profit than glory, and Windows, with 90%-plus of the market, is where the money is.”
Full article here.
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MacDailyNews Take: According to Apple, there are “close to 16 million Mac OS X users” in the world and there are still zero (0) viruses. Zero. According to CNET, the Windows Vista Beta was released “to about 10,000 testers” at the time the first Windows Vista virus arrived.
Those who surf the Web using a Mac tend to be better educated and make more money than their PC-using counterparts, according to a report from Nielsen/NetRatings. – CNET News.
Using Wildstrom’s “logic:” Virus writers are motivated by profit, so they attack those who surf the Web using Windows because they tend to be less educated and make less money than their Mac-using counterparts. If profit is the motivator, wouldn’t it make more sense to try to steal from those with the most money? Or perhaps, it’s too hard and they can’t get into Mac OS X user’s machines at all?
Using common sense, there should be a least one virus in the over 5 years since Mac OS X was released, shouldn’t there? But, there is not one Mac OS X virus. Where is it? The reason why has so much more to do with inherent security than anything else, that to continue to try to equate “security via obscurity” (for an OS that, by the way, isn’t “obscure”) with the inherent security built into Mac OS X, is ridiculous. The New York Times’ David Pogue once tried the Mac OS X “security via obscurity” myth on for size. It didn’t fit. Pogue thought about it and quickly recanted. (Read Pogue’s simple explanation why Mac OS X much more secure than Windows XP here.)
People who propagate the “Mac OS X is secure because it’s obscure” myth are either not thinking the issue through completely or are Microsoft apologists. Apple Mac OS X is vastly better than Windows at protecting its users from malicious attacks. Mac OS X is so much better, in fact, that it’s literally a joke to write lines like, “still, all operating systems have vulnerabilities, including OS X. Like Microsoft, Apple issues a monthly set of security patches to plug the holes.” Those words suggest that Wildstrom thinks Mac OS X would be as prone to viruses, spyware, adware, etc. as Windows, if only it had “90%-plus of the market.” (Windows doesn’t have “90%-plus of the market,” by the way.) Mac OS X would not be as vulnerable to viruses, worms, spyware, etc. as Windows if it had Windows’ installed base. Not even close.
Windows was not designed for open networks like the Internet. Microsoft could never say no to backwards compatibility and now have an OS in the hands of millions of interconnected people that wasn’t designed to be secure when interconnected. Microsoft has been promising better security for years with each successive Windows packaging change. If you think Windows Vista is going to magically fix the problems, we’ve got a nice bridge in Brooklyn for you on sale at eBay now.
Note to all of you “security via obscruity” types: please stop insulting Apple Mac OS X’s (and NeXT’s and decades of Unix’s) brilliant operating system designers while simultaneously trying to cover for Microsoft’s ineptness. The reason that Mac OS X users surf the Web with impunity is because of the secure way Mac OS X is designed, not because it’s “obscure.” What kind product that 16 million people use daily is “obscure?” Your argument is as flawed as Windows. 16 million people use Mac OS X daily and it’s never had one single virus in over 5 years. Let’s get serious. Mac OS X not secure because it’s obscure, it’s just better.
Related MacDailyNews articles:
$500 bounty offered for proof of first Apple Mac OS X virus – September 27, 2005
Symantec: 10,866 new Microsoft Windows virus and worm variants in first half 2005 – September 19, 2005
Cargo magazine describes Apple’s Mac OS X’s immunity to viruses, spyware as ‘relative’ – September 10, 2005
ZDNet Australia publishes latest Mac OS X security FUD article – September 9, 2005
Consumer Reports dubiously finds 20-percent of Mac users ‘detected’ virus in last two years -UPDATED – August 10, 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
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
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