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. Lets not forget there were 68 vunerabilites in Mac OS X, one hasn’t been fixed yet.

    Anyone who hasn’t recently reinstalled Mac OS X on a totally wiped drive is potentially infected by a previous exploit.

    Havethe bad guys quit going after our boxes?

    Does the recent calm mean we are secure?

    http://machacking.net/

  2. everyone is beating a dead horse about micosucks on Macs…. WHO cares!! I sure don’t want windoze on my Mac and I hope the true Mac fans don’t buy into this crap, although I wouldn’t mind If leopard allows windows only apps to run within OS X itself.

    How many average winblows users even know what a OS is?? XP? Duel Boot?? I don’t think so.
    and….
    Dvorak is brain dead.

  3. MDN Take: “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.

    Boo. Look, these are just average Joe/Jane users. I don’t care what OS they are running. I have been using computers for 26 years. Some people have just bought their first and need answers to questions. This part of your take SUCKS. PERIOD.

  4. Biff –

    SafariBlock can filter out the intelliTXT ads (on all sites). Just enter this filter in the preferences:

    *intellitxt.com*

    Andrew – Disabling Javascript for one site is too inconvenient, and 0.0.0.0-ing out intellitxt.com doesn’t keep the double underlining at bay (only the links). SafariBlock is the way to go on this.

  5. I always chuckle when I see MDN and some of the readers of this forum mock the intelligence or technical know-how of PC users. I have both platforms, and frequent technical sites and forums for both. I have to say that my observation is that the average PC enthusiast is *far* more knowledgable about computing than the average Apple enthusiast. Maybe that’s because PC owners need to get under the hood of their OS more often to keep it running. Maybe its because the PC market has a thriving DIY construction community which is impossible for the Mac. Who knows? But to mock PC users as ignorant and stupid just reflects on the immaturity and ignorance of the Mac owner stating it. It’s as crass as those PD owners that think that all Mac owners just buy their computers by their pretty appearance. People have all sorts of reasons for running certain platforms. Ignorance is rarely one of them.

  6. Maybe it’s down to RESPECT. If you have quality software, then it has respect. Offer a piece of garbage/crap/junk and brag about how great it is, then you’re asking for it. That’s what I think & I can now say that, as my company has just switched to PC’s, because the IT Dept said so. Talk about slowing you down & being non productive…

  7. There’s one enormous flaw in the “if it’s more popular, it will be successfully attacked more often” argument. It doesn’t match behavior that can be observed right now.

    The Apache web server currently runs on about 64% of the web servers on the Internet. Microsoft IIS currently runs on about 20%. (Source: http://news.netcraft.com/archives/2006/04/06/april_2006_web_server_survey.html) If the “more popular” argument is correct, then we should expect to see substantially more exploits for Apache than for IIS — at least three times as many, and probably more. And yet — how many Internet worms target Microsoft IIS? How many target Apache?

    Windows is not attacked more because it’s more popular; it’s attacked more because security was an afterthought.

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