“Recently there has been a growth industry in pundits whining about the security of the Apple Mac OS X operating system. To read some of the coverage, you would think someone deciding to use OS X instead of Windows would have to be dumber than a fence post. Methinks the security worries are rather misplaced and may be the result of hyperventilating, nontechnical reporters and some gloating on the part of Windows users,” Scott Bradner writes for Network World. “One would have to be dumber than a fence post to assert any set of software as complex as a computer operating system and all of its application programs could ever be totally secure. Programs are created by programmers, most of whom are human and therefore unlikely to generate perfect, bug-free code. Bugs in software design or implementation are what lead to security vulnerabilities.”
“But that said, there is no reason to think most of OS X should be as subject to vulnerabilities as is most of Windows. Most of OS X, including most of its more than 1,000 Unix applications, are from open source BSD Unix and the GNU Project, both of which have been beaten on by researchers and hackers for years (and fixed when problems have been found). This process is more likely to result in secure code than any private, corporate process such as Microsoft uses, where the code has had nowhere near as many eyes reviewing it,” Bradner writes. “Sometimes public access to source code means a hacker finds something to exploit. It also means exploits can be quickly fixed.”
“Then why the increased buzz about OS X security? (Note that even though the buzz has increased, it is still a whisper compared with discussions about Windows security: A search on Google News, for example, returns 64 hits for OSX + security and 7,300 hits for Windows + security),” Bradner writes. “I expect a major reason is there is a lot of buzz about OS X and Apple these days; too many reporters feel just writing about good news is not good for their careers, so they feel they have to come up with something to complain about… OS X is not going to be vulnerability-free, but I do expect it to show significantly fewer vulnerabilities than Windows has. That does not mean OS X users can ignore security – at the very least, enable the built-in personal firewall – but it does mean you should not stay with Windows because you think it will be safer.”
[Bradner is a consultant with Harvard University’s University Information Systems.]
Full article here.
[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Bob K.” for the heads up.]
MacDailyNews Take: An excellent article, with which we wholeheartedly agree. Email the link to anyone who seems really excited about any of the current “Mac OS X has viruses!” FUD pieces floating around right now. May Bradner’s common sense truth knock them back into reality.
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