When Apple Mac grabs more market share, will malware creators target Mac users?

“You can take the PowerPC chip out of the Mac, but you can’t take the fear out of Mac owners,” Jack Kapica writes for The Globe and Mail Update. “The news last week that Apple’s Boot Camp software would allow users to run Windows on its new Intel-based Macs kicked in a predictable fear that Windows would open Mac users to the wonderful world of viruses so familiar to Windows owners. But it just ain’t so… With Boot Camp, Mac software will be located on another partition on the hard disk within a different file system, so running Windows on a Mac will not expose the Mac or data on the Mac side to any malware… The Windows part will, of course, be vulnerable to viruses.”

“This opens up a dormant debate in the Mac community. So far, there is a generalized belief that there are few or no viruses for Mac OS because Mac OS is intrinsically a better system than Windows, which is true. What few want to believe is that many virus makers are attracted by market share, not platform quality. And if Apple makes serious inroads into Microsoft’s markets, then more malware creators will start looking at Macs, hoping that Mac users’ general innocence with viruses will make them more attractive as targets,” Kapica writes.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: There are far more Windows sufferers afflicted with “general innocence” than there are total Mac users. Hence the rapid spread of poorly-written kiddie scripts over in Windows-land. Kournikova, anyone? Mac users are generally smart people who’ve taken a real look at the personal computing landscape and made the informed choice of the Mac over Windows, they didn’t just go with the most popular platform like lemmings. Mac users know not to go clicking willy nilly on unknown email attachments or try downloading 24 KB “Microsoft Word” files from Pirates ‘R Us. They’re certainly not going to give their Mac OS X password for permission to install some random app downloaded from some dark corner of the Web. Remember the Mac doesn’t just install apps without the users’ knowledge as does Windows. We don’t think Mac users on average will make more attractive targets than your average Wal-Mart shopper who bought some POS Windows box based purely on its initial sticker price. Sheesh, just listen to the Kim Komando radio show for half an hour some weekend. Go ahead, we dare you! It’s a festival of Windows sufferers trying and failing to do basic things that Mac users do daily with ease. It’s maddening! Do we have a low opinion of a certain (large) segment of Windows users’ computer knowledge? Why, yes. Yes, we do.

Thankfully, the Windows box sticker price shopper will be the last to figure it all out. The first wave of new-to-Mac types will be from those who’ve been wistfully eyeing the platform for years, but just couldn’t bear to part with their Windows-only software, games, and/or comfort-zone. They will be good new Mac users and won’t be any more susceptible to social engineering scams than current Mac users. It’ll take years before the real dopes get Macs and even when they do, Mac OS X will protect them from themselves far better than Windows ever could.

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Related article:
Cringley: Apple plans to provide best darned Windows experience anywhere -even better than Microsoft – April 15, 2006
Apple’s superior hardware can now run Microsoft’s inferior Windows XP – April 10, 2006
Microsoft: recovery from Windows malware becoming impossible; better to to wipe and rebuild – April 04, 2006
More evidence that Mac users are smarter than Windows users – July 16, 2004

25 Comments

  1. You never want your Mac partition exposed to Windows. If it is, then it’s vulnerable. I haven’t heard of Conversion but there are lots of ways to access your Mac volume from Windows, and it’s not a good idea. (Unless you never use Windows online or insert CDs. Then Windows is somewhat safer than normal!)

    Virtualization (like Parallels) is your best bet for safe sharing back and forth. Drag and drop or copy and paste, but DON’T share volumes.

    Boot Camp is fine if you don’t need to share a lot of stuff back and forth between OSs, and all you want is to run some Windows app once in a while. When you need to share data with bootcamp, use a CD-R or email the file to yourself.

    Mac OS X is very secure. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot running Windows on your Mac! If you have to do it, be smart about it.

  2. No need for foul language. There are times that windows access is necessary…but as a G5 suer Boot Camp is not an option. I would love to get rid of my WinDOZE computer and dual boot someday.

  3. Y’know, ever since I changed over to Macs life has been much sweeter… I think the Winblows hackers out there don’t have the gnads to attempt an OS X hack. I’m safe and I think I will continue to be safe…

  4. “With Boot Camp, Mac software will be located on another partition on the hard disk within a different file system, so running Windows on a Mac will not expose the Mac or data on the Mac side to any malware… The Windows part will, of course, be vulnerable to viruses.”

    Wouldn’t the virus writer want to add functionality to the virus to see the Mac partition and, say, erase it?

  5. A virus that adds HFS+ support to Windows? That would be pretty cool. But since it wouldn’t be useful on anything but a Mac with a dual-boot setup, how widespread would it become? I’m sure the vast majority of clueless Windows moms won’t be running a dual-boot Mac.

  6. Yaawwwnnn:

    So this is going to be another panic week of putting would be Mac users on alert that, possibly, maybe, sometime in the future, probably, there will be Mac viruses – OOOOO! Didn’ we just do this about two weeks ago?

    Of course there is or will be bad things floating around for the Mac – Jeepers Creepers. (Something to do witht he world we live in??)

    MAKE NO MISTAKE WANNA-BE, THINKING ABOUT BEING MAC USERS: THE MAC HAS BEEN AND ALWAYS WILL BE AN EXCELLENT ALTERNATIVE TO MS WINDOWS – PERIOD.

    By the time there are 5 or 6 really bad Mac viruses floating around there will be another 100 (and I’m not exagerating) mildly bad to really bad Windows bugs.

    Have a beautiful day.

  7. For as long as OS X has been around, and probably longer than that, some people have been saying that there aren’t enough Macs to be a worthwhile target.

    They were saying it when there were a million OS X users, then five million, then ten million. Now there are over twenty million users, they’re still saying it.

    How many OS X users will there need to be before those people realise that the lack of successful viruses is nothing to do with the number of users. It’s to do with how well OS X is designed.

  8. THERE’S ONE OTHER REASON WHY MACS HAVE FEWER VIRUSES THAN WINDOWS: the sense by programmers and hackers that Microsoft and Bill Gates are utterly evil and are deserving of being taken down a notch or two. Conversely, the attitude with regard to Apple and Steve Jobs is that they are have honor, integrity, and class. Accordingly, the kind of malware you tend to get for the Mac are “proof-of-concept” programs intended to expose vulnerabilities without actually doing any real harm. Sort of like how Dr. Hannibal Lecter wouldn’t go after Clarice in The Silence of the Lambs because “it would be rude.”

    I have no doubt this gentlemanly behavior will diminish as the Mac club becomes less exclusive and more and more dillweeds have Macs. But the “don’t be rude” effect will still be there for Apple.

  9. Man, are those little green ads ever distracting. You almost get the sense the MDN takes are now written to include certain <u>keywords</u> that are chosen so they link to ads that bring in the most <u>money</u>. In the meantime, when you’re reading these things, you instinctively think these underlined words are emphasized because they are key points, when in fact they are just ordinary, everyday words like <u>computer</u> and <u>memory</u>, that happen to bring in lots of <u>cash</u>.

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