Spate of recent Mac security stories signal that Microsoft, others getting nervous

By SteveJack

Viruses that aren’t viruses. Hysterical reports that equate Mac OS X security to Windows. Media reports about Mac OS X “worms, trojans, and viruses.” Totally unsubstantiated reports that Mac OS X can be “hacked in under 30-minutes” (the lack of proof screams for attention). Which, of course, is the headline that’s blared.

Why all of this noise about Mac OS X and “security issues” lately? I’ll tell you why: Microsoft and their parasites are getting nervous. Market share is increasing for Apple Macintosh. The Windows platform means billions of dollars to Microsoft and companies built and run around Windows’ deficiencies. Throw in antivirus purveyors now threatened by Microsoft’s slimy entry into the market (it’s beyond belief to Mac users that Mafiasoft will now charge suckers $50 per year to “protect” their own product) that are looking for a new market and you have more than enough reasons for the spate of articles questioning Mac OS X security.

Many people are worried. And rightly so. What if a large portion of people switch to Mac from Windows? What happens to the mom and pop operations that depend on selling boxes that run Windows and that have no experience with Macs? What happens to the antivirus companies that depend on the Windows security mess? How will they sell their wares to Mac OS X users? What happens to Microsoft’s Windows profits? What happens to software makers that make Windows-only software? The list goes on forever; there’s a whole economy based on fixing and supporting Windows.

Munir Kotadia’s latest for ZDNet is just another in a string of FUD pieces (see related articles below) designed to introduce doubt about the Mac in Joe and Jane Sixpack. Gotta keep ’em in the fold; by whatever means possible, it seems. Big bucks is involved here. (In all fairness, Kotadia has written at least one pro-Mac security piece, too.)

People are switching to Mac from Windows. Apple’s Mac market share increased over a percentage point in the last year alone, according to Gartner and IDC. That is why Mac OS X’s security is being attacked in dubious articles (weakly, but attacked nonetheless). In fact, over a year ago, I warned about Mac backlash from those interested in protecting their Windows turf. Such backlash will get worse before it gets better. These people and companies aren’t about to let facts get in the way of continuing to fill their pockets with Windows-related profits.

Ultimately, these articles mean good things for Apple. It shows that the Mac is gaining and it’s making a lot of people who depend on keeping the masses stuck on Windows very, very nervous.

SteveJack is a long-time Macintosh user, web designer, multimedia producer and a regular contributor to the MacDailyNews Opinion section.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Apple Mac OS X clearly offers superior security over Microsoft Windows – March 02, 2006
Apple Mac OS X has a lot more vulnerabilities than Windows XP? – February 28, 2006
Enderle: Security vendors see Apple as next big opportunity – February 28, 2006
As Apple Mac grows in popularity, will security issues increase? – February 27, 2006
The Idiot’s Guide to Mac Viruses For Dummies 101 – February 24, 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
Atlanta Journal-Constitution asks: Is ‘Mac virus’ all just propaganda from Mac haters? – February 20, 2006
Mafiasoft: Microsoft to charge $50 per year for security service to protect Windows – February 07, 2006
ZDNet Australia publishes latest Mac OS X security FUD article – January 26, 2006 (Kotadia)
IDC: Apple Mac 2005 U.S. market share 4% on 32% growth year over year – January 20, 2006
Analysts: Apple Mac’s 5% market share glass ceiling set to shatter in 2006 – January 09, 2006
ZDNet Australia publishes latest Mac OS X security FUD article – September 09, 2005 (Kotadia)
Joke of the month: Gartner warns of Mac OS X ‘spyware infestation’ potential – March 30, 2005 (Kotadia)
Symantec warns about Mac OS X security threat – March 21, 2005 (Kotadia)

59 Comments

  1. I don’t believe the ZDNET article is a farce, it’s just not that informative. The guy who set-up the competition, didn’t invite people to hack a Mac OS X machine across the internet. He gave everyone a local account to hack the machine from inside. That’s right, each hacker was given a local account which they could access via SSH then rummage the machine looking for a way to gain root access. This is a totally different type of exploit than your normal hacks and cracks. Local user exploits can always happen. All you need is time and savvy. Typically most security focuses on remote exploits. Not what this competition was about.

    I don’t know why the user set this up this way–pure stupidity if you ask me. But unfortunately, shoddy reporting (not enough details), will lead to tons of people spouting off that your Mac web server can be hacked in 30 minutes (which isn’t true, or at least hasn’t been proven true).

  2. That’s ridiculous. It’d be like me saying, “I’m going to leave my front door open. I bet you can’t steal from me!”

    Just more FUD, and, as usual, ZDNET is glad to report it.

  3. Mac OS is the most secure out-of-the-box Desktop OS. Period.

    That said, it is not perfect, nor is it invulnerable. Period.

    The whys and whats are not as important as that single fact. Just like the most important part of safety equipment in a car is the driver, the user is the most important security feature of ANY computer. Mac users need to take prudent steps to secure their computer and be able to recover their system. Not doing so is just plain stupid.

    If someone were to develop and get malware for the Mac in the wild it could easily spread like a wildfire, as few Mac users have software for anti-virus removal and backed-up files for recovery.

    What if said malware, in addition to other actions, inhibited your ability to access the internet? Now, not only do you have an infected computer– you lack the ability to download the software necessary to remove it from your computer. Unless you live near a fairly large city Mac software is far from easy to grab off the shelf.

    Yes, you will be able to recover your system and might be able to recover your files, but easily? NO. Most of the chicken little stuff we have seen lately is self-serving FUD from people who make their living from selling security software and/or services.

    That said, making sure you have your files properly backed up and an anti-virus program readily available is wise and prudent. Period.

  4. The spirit of this article is totally accurate. All of us OS X folks are interested in making the system secure. So why are the lies and FUD being circulated? It’s not by people who really want OS X to be a better product. It’s not by people who have actually found a vulnerability. These attacks come from people wanting to preserve the status quo, operating in bad faith. Compare the OS X “trojans, worms, and security holes” to Microsoft’s claims that Windows is cheaper to run than Linux. Do you see the parallels? Rear-guard defensive manuevers cloaked in the appearance of truth. Hint to Microsoft: Apple is no Caldera.

  5. There has been no PROOF that this so called HACKER was able to exploit the system and gain root access at all, leave alone in 30 minutes.

    Hasn’t stopped the Windows loving, Mac hating MORONS from running with this story.

    If any of them had a shred of credibility, then taking this report at face value with nothing but the claim as proof just shows how pathetic these Windows apologists really are,

  6. If you all have been following my posts recently, you already know I can confirm Mac OS X, in it’s present form, is remote hackable, especially from websites.

    Apple is addressing the issue is all I can say. (NDA)

    Those who are saying because of Mac OS X’s low market share is the main reason we are not hacked more often are probablly right.

  7. These pathetic attempts to show how unsecure Mac OS X is only show the opposite. If this is the best these “hackers” can to against Mac OS X, then I feel REALLY safe using Mac OS X. Apparently, they can’t come up with anything better than “concept” worms that require the user to give permission and hackers who say they did something without any proof or details. I’m sure Mac OS X is not invulnerable, but it’s much much better than Windows.

  8. People go after OSX because so many of the faithful say it can’t be done. You hold OSX out to the public as an indestructable, impenetrable fortress. This is an irresistible temptation to the same people who go after Windows just because its the biggest kid on the block.

    Given sufficient time and a determined mind, there is no operating system that can’t be broken into. Your own banter and swaggering egotism is the reason these incessent attacks are taking place.

    Try being honest with newbies and potential switchers for a change. Don’t tell them Macs are perfect. Don’t tell them Macs can’t get viri and such. Just tell them the truth. At this point in time, Macs are the best system out there.

  9. The Mac Mini that was “hacked” was done so by a guy with an axe to grind…he set the thing up so *anyone* could log in and get an account.

    3 cardinal rules of Systems Security:

    1) Don’t let the bad guy get physical access to your computer. If he can touch it, it’s not your computer anymore.

    2) Don’t let the bad guy run programs on your computer. If he can log in, it’s not your computer anymore.

    3) Don’t let the bad guy to convince YOU to run his programs on your computer. If you run his programs, it’s not your computer anymore.

    This guy is a a**hat troll.

  10. I don’t doubt an OSX system could be hacked in half an hour … even I could do it if the system’s admin left enough doors open. And a Windows guru just might do that … accidentally or on purpose.

    Some Mac users might do the same! My step-daughter’s iBook boots up and auto-logins to an admin account! The one she uses for everything! We have spoken about this several times and she has said she’ll let me set up her next system (in a few months) but that she’ll allow no changes to her current system (fear of loss of data).

    Mac users should thank the (WERE they MS employees?) folks who created the ineffectual malware that the ignorant are making such a fuss over! Nobody is out there sweating over being The First with a Mac virus. Well, maybe a few … those who want the watered-down acclaim for the first VIRUS, and can accept that other non-viral exploits preceded his effort. And … there are now fewer Mac owners leaving their systems wide open to the simplest of exploits.

  11. As much as we Mac users are called zealots and macolytes and such we all must keep in mind that there are Microshaft zealots as well. They just don’t have to defend their position as much because they’re in the majority, but nonetheless the thought of Apple becoming dominant in the computer world scares them more than it excites us.

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