eWeek article about potential Mac OS X security exploits is fiction, factually wrong

“eWeek writer Paul F. Roberts’ piece on the Mac looks like a detailed article on potential security exploits which may be uncovered with the Mac’s switch to Intel chips. It’s not. Since Mac users will be quick to point out the error of his fiction, eWeek will generate a lot of hits to their web site. More hits, more ad impressions, more revenue,” Tera Patricks writes for Mac360. “Enough with the fiction already. Mac users know better.”

“The very first sentence of the article says Intel Macs ‘could open the door’ to more attacks against Mac OS X. I’ll buy that but not worry about it, because ‘could’ is probably correct. Sales of Macs will continue to increase, market share will continue to increase, so, hey, it “could” happen.” Then Roberts follows up the first step down the Fiction Parade route with: ‘The shift to Intel processors from the Motorola Power PC processors will make it easier to create software exploits for Macintosh systems, and could result in a steady stream of Mac exploits in years to come,'” Patricks writes. “It ‘will’ make it easier? Ok, how about some proof. eWeek did interviews about the so-called mounting ‘pressure’ on Apple to build security measures into Mac OS X. The implication in that line is that OS X does not currently have security features.”

“That’s bad journalism, poor writing, and factually wrong,” Patricks writes. “While Apple thoughtfully declined an interview with eWeek (see! The folks at Apple are smart; don’t feed the literary monkeys), they did say, ‘the security technologies and processes that have made Mac OS X secure for PowerPC remain the same for Intel-based Macs.’ Let’s recap. eWeeks says Apple doesn’t have security features in OS X. Apple says they do. Mac OS X has no viruses, no trojan horses, and no spyware exploits despite being on the market for five years and with tens of millions of customers,” Patricks writes. “Don’t misunderstand my perspective or history. I know that ALL operating systems have exploits and security issues. All. Some are well known, some haven’t been found yet, some are used to mess up your computer. The real issue is, ‘does it happen often enough to be an issue of concern?’ The answer is, YES. For Windows. No, for Linux on Intel. No for Mac on PPC, and no (so far) for Mac on Intel. When it happens, we’ll hear about it. For now, those hackers have much more fun chewing through Windows Swiss Cheese XP SP 42.”

Full article here.

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Related articles:
Security technologies that have made Mac OS X secure for PowerPC remain same for Intel-based Macs – January 27, 2006
Windows virus threatens 170-year-old Toldeo newspaper’s perfect record, Apple Macs save the day – January 27, 2006
ZDNet Australia publishes latest Mac OS X security FUD article – January 26, 2006
‘Highly critical’ flaw in discovered in Symantec AntiVirus for Mac OS X – December 21, 2005
Microsoft Windows virus spreads rapidly; Apple Macintosh unaffected – November 28, 2005
Computer columnist: anti-virus software purely optional for Apple Macs, not so for Windows – November 01, 2005
Microsoft apologists and why Apple’s Mac OS X has zero viruses – October 24, 2005
$500 bounty offered for proof of first Apple Mac OS X virus – September 27, 2005
ZDNet: How many Mac OS X users affected by the last 100 viruses? None, zero, not one, not ever – August 18, 2005


  1. Although the original article was mainly crap, I wish people would stop writing these articles about how secure Mac on Intel is without any real knowledge.

    It is quite possible that the change to Intel chips will make Mac OS more susceptible for Buffer Overruns. Intel chips simply are more susceptible to buffer overruns than PowerPC chips.

    It really doesn’t do any good for Mac users (of which I am one) to be so complacent about this switch.

  2. Also, I’ve had Linux machines infected by the various “worms” out there and rootkitted. It was a big f***ing pain in the ass, so my answer to “does it happen often enough to be an issue of concern?” is: Yes!

    Not had a Mac hacked yet though, I must admit.

  3. Speaking of buffer overruns, does anyone know if the Intel version of OS X supports the Execute Disable Bit. A look on Intel’s site doesn’t have it listed as one of the OSs that do.

  4. “eWeek”. Yeh-heh-hehesssssss. There’s no way they should be charging to advertise on that site. I’ve seen more accurate reporting in Monkey Monthly magazine. And that’s run by chimps. Yeh-hesssss, the quality of information on eWeek is so bad it’s like me trying to charge for my POOP!

    eWeek should change their name to “freeWeek”.

  5. pog… True! .. but what tells you that Apple Intel based computers are not Mac? Cause you clearly say: “Not had a Mac hacked yet though, I must admit.”

    I am sure Apple has checked the risks of this move and is willing to deal with what ever it needs to in order to keep its Intel base computer as secure as its PowerPCs.

    You started your argument much better by recognizing this as a paradox due to the inaccessibility of the commentators to Intel base computers for real testing. Hold it right there until we all see the real deal.

  6. Am I missng something else in this ‘story’? The guy writes, “The shift to Intel processors from the Motorola Power PC processors…” [my emphasis].

    I was under the assumption that it was IBM and Freescale that manufactured PPC chips… was I wrong all this time?

  7. Always enjoy reading what Tera Patricks has to say – she knows her Mac.

    These reports of OSX security weaknesses and susceptibilities seems to be of the “wishful thinking” category. Details are usually absent…

    It’s almost as if eWeek writer Paul F. Roberts is saying (under his breath) “Come-on guys, write a virus for the Mac, something, anything… Pleeeease”

  8. Going on 22 years now, no viruses, no successful break-ins, no security breaches, nothing…even after I double-dog dared the entire planet and the sum of humanity. That alone tells me all I need to know.

  9. MacDaddy: I don’t own any Intel based Macs. However my PPC based Macs have been fairly invunerable.

    I have some pretty hands on experience with Buffer Overruns however. We have some software at work that is so poorly written it basically buffer overruns itself and crashes. At least it does on Intel Linux.

    On Macs in compiles and runs perfectly. I assumed this was an OS issue, so installed Darwin on an x86 box to test it out (it’s an X11 app). Nope – crashed just as bad as on Linux.

    Essentially the only difference between the Darwin machine and the Mac was the processor.

  10. What happens if you put a different engine into a car? You may have to re-route some hoses or wiring. You may have to cobble some parts together to get them to fit just the right way. You may have to cut some mounting holes or add some bolts in the right places.

    You have the same steering wheel, brakes, accelerator, transmission, windshield, roof, seats, doors, body, wheels, etc., etc., etc…

    Does it make it any easier to break into or hotwire?

    Same thing.

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