FUD Alert: Viruses don’t catch up to the Mac

“Benjamin Daines was browsing the Web when he clicked on a series of links that promised pictures of an unreleased update to his computer’s operating system. Instead, a window opened on the screen and strange commands ran as if the machine was under the control of someone – or something – else. Daines was the victim of a computer virus. Such headaches are hardly unusual on PCs running Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system. Daines, however, was using a Mac – an Apple Computer Inc. machine often touted as being immune to such risks,” Dan Goodin reports for The Associated Press. “He and at least one other person who clicked on the links were infected by what security experts call the first-ever virus for Mac OS X, the operating system that has shipped with every Mac sold since 2001 and has survived virtually unscathed from the onslaught of malware unleashed on the Internet in recent years.”

MacDailyNews Take: Not a virus; it’s a flaw in Safari (please see related articles below). We’d like to meet the so-called “security experts” who call this the “first-ever virus for Mac OS X,” so we could suggest they shove some, uh… job training into their busy schedules.

Goodin continues, “Apple officials point to the company’s virtually unvarnished security track record and disputed claims that Mac OS X is more susceptible to attack now than in the past. Apple plans to patch the holes reported by Ferris in the next automatic update of Mac OS X, and there have been no reports of them being exploited, spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said. She disagreed that the vulnerabilities make it possible for a criminal to run code on a targeted machine.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: There are a lot more old, recycled, and questionable ideas in the full article, such as the idea that Intel processors make the Mac more susceptible to viruses; it’s the operating system that opens a PC to viruses, not the processor (see: eWeek: Intel transition a ‘security non-issue’ for Apple Mac). Goodin’s article is an excellent compendium of FUD. Whether the author knew what he was writing about and was a willing coconspirator or whether some entity or entities sought out an ignorant “technology” writer to unknowingly disseminate their FUD is really the only question.

Fact is, Apple’s Mac platform is infinitely safer than Windows. The reason we are seeing articles like this and will see many more in the future has already been explained by our own SteveJack as recently as March 2006: Spate of recent Mac security stories signal that Microsoft, others getting nervous. And that was written even before Apple threatened to seriously disrupt the PC landscape with the Boot Camp concept (ability to run Windows apps at native speeds on a Mac). Expect the FUD to get even thicker as Apple continues taking market share in ever-increasing amounts from the OS-limited Windows box assemblers. Oh look, here’s one already, just published fresh for today: More sites rotten to Apples; Operating system no longer ‘bulletproof,’ according to report.

Mac users: turn on your firewall, don’t run your Mac as “root,” and use common sense (nobody’s giving you a million dollars via random email), and you can continue to surf the Web with relative impunity while Microsoft execs tell Windows sufferers that recovery from Windows malware becoming impossible. Supposedly, it’s better to wipe your hard drive, reinstall Windows, and rebuild your computer from scratch every so often. Can you believe that idiocy?

Macintosh. Because life’s too short.

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Related MacDailyNews articles:
Network World: Apple’s Mac OS X is significantly more secure than Windows – May 01, 2006
Minor security flaws found in Mac OS X – April 23, 2006
Microsoft: recovery from Windows malware becoming impossible; better to to wipe and rebuild – April 04, 2006
BusinessWeek: Apple should hire security czar to combat uninformed media FUD – March 09, 2006
Apple Mac remains ‘unhacked’ as University of Wisconsin’s Mac OS X Security Challenge ends – March 08, 2006
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
eWeek: Intel transition a ‘security non-issue’ for Apple Mac – January 30, 2006
ZDNet Australia publishes latest Mac OS X security FUD article – January 26, 2006
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
Joke of the month: Gartner warns of Mac OS X ‘spyware infestation’ potential – March 30, 2005
Symantec warns about Mac OS X security threat – March 21, 2005

58 Comments

  1. Actually I think this latest rash of FUD falls into the “any publicity is good publicity” category. It’s still plainly obvious that the Mac is way more secure than Windows, and the article gives the platform higher visibility and mentions the “growing market share”. The Mac is getting street cred.

  2. Yes, Mac Nutjobs, this is a GRAND CONSPIRACY by Microsoft, the CIA, and the Dark Side to keep Apple down. Nothing in these news reports is at all true. The reporters are, in fact, Redmond employees who receive daily marching orders from Bill and Balmer. Now then, let’s all kneel before our Macs and masterbate.

  3. UNIX,
    When I read “several’s” comment I figured it was tongue-in-cheek. Starting with the “crashes every ten seconds” thing – when was the last time you used a system that could boot up in ten seconds? Perhaps he meant after ten seconds of finishing booting … possible with auto-login and some seriously foolish actions.

    Auto-login … don’t use it! Even if your system is in a locked room in a secure corridor of Fort Knox. I know people like my mother love the ease of just booting up and checking their email without having to bother with nasty user names and passwords, but it really isn’t a good idea. As you will find out if you tragically install a user-level program/script that crashes your auto-login account as soon as you log in.

  4. Re: Mac-PC Font Size Differences

    There is a good article on the topic here….

    http://db.tidbits.com/getbits.acgi?tbart=05284

    In short, long, long ago when GUI was first being designed and introduced, Apple decided to stay with the printing industry standard of fonts being divided into 1/72nds of an inch, a “point”. A font size of 72 points was exactly 1 inch tall. This was an international standard for the printing industry.

    Microsoft, in their infinite wisdom decided to use 96 dpi. It wasn’t even an understandable “100” which could have some level of rationality to it, but it may have been based upon the resolution of common computer monitors. The actual reason to ignore industry standards is still unclear.; perhaps it’s just Microsoft being Microsoft.

    To this day, the battle rages and to make it even more difficult, HTML only offers 7, nonstandardized, fonts sizes to choose from. In the days of the early internet, PDF was strongly considered as the standard. It would have kept with existing printing standards, fonts would be sent with the document and would not be limited to a few styles and sizes and it also allowed for vector graphics (enlarged without losing detail) rather than bit mapped graphics. Unfortunately, the low speed of data transfer and the general public’s obsession for instantaneous gratification, resulted in creating a smaller and faster files, resulting is equally poorer web pages; HTML.

    I am hoping with more people getting faster internet connections that PDF will become the standard for web design. The viewer will see exactly what the designer created regardless of browser or computer platform. The only 2 things holding this up is the inability of American designers to think different, to hang onto archaic standards in a phobic reaction to learning something new, even though it is obviously a better means to a much better end. Imagine making your website using ANY type of publishing program and simply (on a Mac at least) save as a PDF to your ISP folder, and knowing with 100% assurance that the viewer will see it exactly as you created it.

    Naawwww… too easy… too simple… and Microsoft has no stake in it… Yanks too dim-witted to see something awesome 2 inches from their nose… it’ll never fly.

  5. Just goes to show how the various media outlets regurgitate whatever the AP puts on the wire.

    Not sure how many of these early posts were satire. Like Mike and his root story or several and the Verdana font story. Very funny stuff!

  6. Joe,
    Nobody said anything about the CIA or ‘the Dark Side’ – unless you equate tDS with Redmond. The ‘reporters’ could be mistaken, or idiots, or PC trolls – or they could be posting from within MS, as do various anti-Linux trolls.

    None of it ‘true’? Well … the report noted above is just so much FUD. About the only things that might be accurate are:
    1) the source
    2) the author’s name
    3) the reported good reputation of Mac security
    4) the reality that OS X is NOT invulnerable

    The rest is FUD – Microsoft’s favorite weapon for the past 20 years. The only thing they produce more of would be vulnerabilities. I guess the users don’t help, though – they like to run user tasks from Admin accounts and have the system log in at power-up even more than Mac users do.

  7. Context context context. Perspective perspective perspective.

    The real FUD in these kinds of articles is that the world’s precious Windows platform might just come crashing down around us after all, with or without viruses.

    The real FUD is being felt by the IT people who have been brainwashed, and who have in turn brainwashed the companies and individuals they serve. IT personel the world over may just have to fess up that no one and no company has to use Windows to get their work done – period. Its all been a big lie and the world has been a “Stepford” Consumer of MS Windows, and the robotic minions are beginning to awaken.

    Come on world, you can do it – WAAAAKKKEE UUUUUPPP!!!!!

  8. “my mac crashes every 10 seconds, its filled with bugs and viruses, safari crashes without a warning, so does ichat and iweb. its full of viruses.

    also i noticed safari makes text bolder than it really is.
    for example, a regular verdana text looks like verdana bold on safari while it looks normal on firefox or internet explorer.

    this is a huge issue especially if you design a web site.”

    I suggest you check your fonts – if main applications are crashing it’s 90% a font issue (conflicting or corrupt) NOT a virus. That’s PC mentality – “if I’m crashing it must be a virus” Just because you feel a drop of water doesn’t mean there’s a thunderstorm.

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