As Apple Mac grows in popularity, will security issues increase?

“Users of Apple Computer Inc.’s Macintosh computers have long enjoyed the technology equivalent of a safe neighborhood, where the viruses and security nuisances that bedevil far more common Windows PCs are practically nonexistent. Now, as the Mac is seeing some of its best sales in years, bad guys appear to be casing the joint,” Nick Wingfield reports for The Wall Street Journal. “The two worms were innocuous compared with the most invasive and destructive programs that plague Windows computers; security experts referred to them as ‘proof of concept’ programs. The worms didn’t appear to inflict any meaningful harm on Macs — they required users to go through several steps on their computers before being infected. Yet the appearance of the worms tripped alarm bells among some Mac users and security firms because they were part of a very small handful of malicious Mac programs, known in the tech world as “malware.” Security experts believe it is only a matter of time before more-virulent forms of malware for Macs appear.”

“Security researchers say they have recorded between 100,000 and 200,000 viruses — a term often used interchangeably with worms to describe malicious programs that spread by copying themselves — for Windows and previous Microsoft operating systems. For Mac OS X, the number can be counted on one hand,” Wingfield reports. “Apple of Cupertino, Calif., is becoming a higher-profile target, though. While Apple’s market share remains small, its Mac business was booming last year: The company sold 4.7 million Macs in calendar 2005, a 35% gain from the 3.5 million it sold in 2004 and far better than the 16% growth for the PC industry as a whole during the same period. Apple’s visibility as a company has never been higher, with the smashing success of its iPod music player, an iconic device that has introduced many Windows users to Apple technologies for the first time.”

“In response to the vulnerability identified last week, the company said in a statement, ‘Apple takes security very seriously. We’re working on a fix so that this doesn’t become something that could affect customers. Apple always advises Mac users to only accept files from vendors and Web sites that they know and trust.’ Many users of Apple products and some security experts also believe Macs are more resistant to malware attacks than Windows computers because of smart decisions Apple made in the design of OS X. Out of the box, Apple has set up Macs to make it hard for hackers to do damaging things like surreptitiously install harmful software programs than it has been in the past on Windows XP, the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system,” Wingfield reports.

Full article here.

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Related articles:
Is Steve Jobs human after all? – February 23, 2006
Wired News: ‘Mac attack a load of crap’ – February 22, 2006
Report: Apple developing fix for automatic execution of shell scripts – February 21, 2006
Ars Technica: Fears over new Mac OS X ‘Leap-A’ trojan pointless – February 20, 2006
Datamonitor: ‘Mac OS is just as vulnerable to malware as Windows’ – February 20, 2006
Atlanta Journal-Constitution asks: Is ‘Mac virus’ all just propaganda from Mac haters? – February 20, 2006


  1. If you beleive in the Security Through Obscurity myth then the answer is yes. However we already know what the truth is.

    The irony is people always say that the Mac isn’t targeted because of it’s small market share and the fact that virus writers want to do as much damage as possible, but the thing is it’s a behavior driven by ego, and there are more than plenty of people Im sure who hate the mac platform and its ‘smug’ users that they certainly would have assulated the platform in force by now if it was truly that easy.

  2. I rahter like the “big fat zero”. But still, they’ll be very hard put to find anyone who has actually HAD an OSX malware experience. Needle in a haystack springs to mind- or OSX virus in a WinBox world…

  3. Problems will increase from 0 to .0000000001… after OS X has been out for ANOTHER 5 years… by which time Vista’s holes will be leaking for the world to see, and Leopard will be a tighter ship than ever!

    You can have almost-perfect with Mac or badly-screwed-up with Windows. Enjoy your choice.

  4. This recent spat of “security issues” Apple is dealing with is like having a drive-by nerf ball thrown at my front door. I heard a very faint “thud”, but nothing else really happened, and the “bad guys” are gone, thinking they’ve done something to hurt me.

  5. Stoopid reporters on CNBC this morning telling people that the mac won’t make it into corporate IT now that it is vulnerable to viruses!!

    GEEESH – they didn’t even sound like they knew what they were talkng about but the entire panel was aghast!!


  6. What is with this rediculous notion that a simple program I write in Xcode or any other programming language and send to someone saying lying that it’s something else (social engineering) is a virus. You are SUPPOSED to be able to write a program to do ANYTHING that a user CAN install. If a user allows a program to install it’s their own fault their machine gets mucked up. Not Apple’s, Microsoft’s or anyone elses but their own. The operating system did what it IS supposed to do. If my program deletes your home folder, and you install it, the OS is NOT at fault! WHY ISN’T THIS OBVIOUS FACT EVER REPORTED!!!!

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