Apple’s vaunted security record threatened by Macs that run security-challenged Microsoft Windows?

“Apple Computer last month dropped the bombshell that its new Boot Camp software would let Macintosh computers dual-boot and run the Windows operating system. The initial reviews were very favorable. Mac lovers–arguably the eclectic hippies of the computer revolution–finally have a chance to run programs previously unavailable, including proprietary business applications,” Bob Johnson writes for CNET.

MacDailyNews Take: Proprietary Windows business applications. Far out, man! Superzap every mac with love! Hey, man, which way to the commune?

Johnson continues, “But users are now also able to bring all their favorite programs to the new MacTel platform. So it’s time to be on the lookout for security stowaways–the viruses, worms and spyware that are coming along for the ride. The Windows platform (along with Internet Explorer) is clearly the most targeted and exploited operating system on the planet–and it’s now crashing the relatively virus-free Mac party… Here’s the rub–Apple users run virtually no security software on their machines. Until recently, the platform was virtually virus-free, remaining unaffected by most major viruses… Praying that someone hasn’t figured out how to get a virus over the Windows/Mac bridge certainly isn’t going to work… This isn’t just another poke at Microsoft’s often lackluster security. Arguably there’s another side of the coin here. While Microsoft’s vulnerabilities might let intruders into the castle, Apple is giving them the keys to the kingdom and rolling out the welcome mat.”

Johnson writes, “Did anyone really believe the security nirvana for Apple would last? It’s now more vulnerable than ever, and things can only get worse… Apple isn’t immune to the viruses, spyware and more that make any computing environment–including the vaunted Mac–vulnerable. Mac lovers may celebrate the new MacTel platform, but will their enthusiasm wane if malware rears its ugly head?”

Full article, with speculation about viruses for Apple’s iPod, too, here.

MacDailyNews Take: At the end of the CNET article: “Bob Johnson is president and CEO of SecureWave, a maker of endpoint security software.” Just so you know what he sells. Mac users’ enthusiasm won’t wane if malware rears its ugly head because Macs have many other advantages; the ability to surf the Web with impunity (using common sense, like not clicking willy nilly on untrusted downloads and giving them permission to install) is nice, but the Mac also has a better UI than Windows, is better thought-out than Windows, has had attention to detail paid to the the user experiences more than Windows, has better Mac-only applications (iLife, Safari) than Windows, even Microsoft Office is better on a Mac than Windows. Many of us chose Mac over Windows before the Windows malware plague arrived. It’s just another reason why Mac is better, not the only reason. Of course, you have to use a Mac to know.

Furthermore, many longtime Mac users won’t be polluting their Macs with Windows; we don’t need Windows and many are 100% Microsoft-free. Imagine that. The Mac users running Windows the most will mainly be the new users, just switched from Windows. You know, the ones who are quite used to Windows and Windows malware wasting their time already. Their enthusiasm for the Mac would not wane even if Johnson’s bridge-jumping Windows to Mac virus rears its ugly head. We do agree with Johnson on his main point: Windows is inferior whether it’s running on a Dell or a Mac.

Take Apple’s advice from their Boot Camp web page to heart: “Word to the Wise: Windows running on a Mac is like Windows running on a PC. That means it’ll be subject to the same attacks that plague the Windows world. So be sure to keep it updated with the latest Microsoft Windows security fixes.

And, Boot Camp is a beta; it won’t be the same in Mac OS X Leopard.

As we just wrote regarding Apple’s new “Get a Mac” ads, it bears repeating: Apple has debuted a very strong ad on the virus issue; now we know why the FUD campaign was revved up again lately. If you think it was just coincidence that several news outfits generated stories about “Mac viruses” on and around the day that Apple launches a TV ad stating that last year there were 114,000 known Windows viruses and none for Macs, you’re naive. Microsoft and those that suck on the Redmond teat have long arms, lots of cash, and a desperate desire to protect their Windows money machine. From the mom and pop shops in every town that charge pigeons $99.99 per box to wipe and reinstall Windows on up to corporate IT bigwigs with multimillion dollar budgets and huge, bloated, MCSE-festooned staffs, we must assume that they’ll defend the Windows hegemony to the death, by any means possible, facts be damned. They’ve done it in the past. They’ve done it even today. And they’ll certainly do it in the future.

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27 Comments

  1. Mac users threatened by Windows? Not having or wanting to install Windows on my Mac I don’t see how I am “threatened”

    This asinine comment only begs the question, “How about PC users threatened by Windows? “

  2. Boot Camp is dangerous!

    All some hacker has to do is add the capabilities to write to HFS+ Mac partition in thier windows malware and there goes what little Mac security there is.

    The Pro’s say it’s better to utilize virtualization software like Parellels because Windows would then run in a “sandbox” under Mac OS X.

    much safer.

  3. I have no problems running windows with parallels. I only run a few programs, don’t use it for connecting to the web and only have it running while I’m using the programs. I don’t see how I’m risking anything. Common sense kept me from getting viruses when I was using a PC all of the time. I risk even less now.

  4. This will all be a moot point if Leopard can run Windows apps sans Windows. The real question is, “Can Apple run Windows apps sans Windows and avoid Windows flaws and exploits all together?”

  5. Just checked out the article and caught sight of the author Bob Johnson. Bob looks quite crusty – the sort of guy who, despite his title of President and CEO of SecureWave, still has to ask his 10 year old grandson to help him out when he has a problem with his PC. The rest of the time, he just sits rocking back and forth in his chair with his flies undone whilst staring out of the window. Ignore him – he’s an arse tube.

  6. Oh, I get the Johnson’s drift, “Windows sucks whether it is on a Mac or a PC.” Gee, I never would have figured it out without yer brilliant insight. I apologize for not recognizing yer radiant intelligence earlier.

  7. Reasons why OSX is safer than Windows:

    A common notion is that Mac OS X and Linux are virus-free because they offer virus writers a much smaller “audience” than Windows. That, as it turns out, is a myth, no matter who repeats it. There’s a much bigger reason virus writers don’t like Mac OS X and Linux.

    Unix [which underlies Mac OS X] and Linux ARE more secure, because they have been developed, open-source style, by people who know exactly what they are doing. Unix and Linux have had at least 10 years of battling hackers to better themselves. This leads to an extremely secure environment.

    Here are some simple design decisions that make Mac OS X and Linux much more secure than Windows XP. For example:

    * Windows comes with five of its ports open; Mac OS X comes with all of them shut and locked. (Ports are back-door channels to the Internet: one for instant-messaging, one for Windows XP’s remote-control feature, and so on.) These ports are precisely what permitted viruses like Blaster to infiltrate millions of PC’s. Microsoft says that it won’t have an opportunity to close these ports until the next version of Windows, and who knows when that’s coming.

    * When a program tries to install itself in Mac OS X or Linux, a dialog box interrupts your work and asks you permission for that installation — in fact, requires your account password. Windows XP goes ahead and installs it, potentially without your awareness.

    * Administrator accounts in Windows (and therefore viruses that exploit it) have access to all areas of the operating system. In Mac OS X, even an administrator can’t touch the files that drive the operating system itself. A Mac OS X virus (if there were such a thing) could theoretically wipe out all of your files, but wouldn’t be able to access anyone else’s stuff — and couldn’t touch the operating system itself.

    * No Macintosh e-mail program automatically runs scripts that come attached to incoming messages, as Microsoft Outlook does.

    Linux and Mac OS X aren’t just more secure because fewer people use them. They’re also much harder to crack right out of the box.

  8. theNewMacDude:

    The only product released from Redmond on time and in great quantities is FUD. It’s a pathetically shameful that Microsoft’s only operational department is its “Office of Disinformation, Deception, and Deceit”. No doubt, these guys’ jobs are secure.

  9. Mike K…you ought to be writing these articles. I don’t know if you stole that or wrote it yourself, but it was perfectly written. I hate myths, the myth that viruses don’t exist for the Mac because there are fewer Macs is right up there with Elvis being alive.

  10. Bob needs to play with something else if he thinks there’s virtually no security software on OS X…

    Firewall on by default, non-root (or administrator) accounts, etc.

    Sort of sounds like his software isn’t needed on OS X (software that creates access control lists of processes). Well, UNIX permissions are pretty compelling when done right.

  11. How to interpret FUD:

    “There has been a significant increase in Mac viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and exploits.”

    The total number of flaws for Mac has increased 40% from 5 to 7.

    “There has been a substantial decrease in Windows viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and exploits.”

    The number of flaws for Windows has decreased a significant 20% from 71,000 to 56,800.

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