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. It’s not a proven threat until it happens in “the wild”. Even then, X has a long way to go before it can be declared to be as insecure as any version of windows. It is FUD, exaggerating the threat. I’m no expert, but it seems news and security software companies are trying to lump together all these unknown, undisclosed vulnerabilities, bugs, etc. as “viruses” when at least in my understanding, that’s not what they are.

  2. I agree with SteveJack, which must be why I think he’s so smart. Let’s now tie his insight in with another perennial complaint about Macintosh, namely that it has been under-advertised and under-promoted by Apple.

    The increasing, and expected, Mac Backlash is the main reason why Apple has chosen to kill them softly in the marketplace. By taking the long-term grassroots approach to market share increase, instead of making outrageous (but true) claims that OS X is vastly superior to Windows, Apple is preparing an army of dedicated Mac users to refute the FUD when it finally hits the fan.

    I believe the evil megalomaniac leader in the 1984 Apple ad said it best:

    We are one people. With one will, one resolve, one cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death and we will bury them with their own confusion. We shall prevail!

    Both sides seem to be using that same strategy now.

  3. 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).

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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