USA Today writer tries some Mac security FUD on for size

“In a widely aired TV commercial, a hip-looking dude personifying Apple products wipes the nose of a sickly businessman representing Windows PCs, and smugly declares Apple’s immunity to computer viruses,” Byron Acohido writes for USA Today.

Acohido writes, “But the ad belies an alarming shift in cyberattacks. Cyberintruders once bent on breaking into the Windows operating system are increasingly probing for vulnerabilities in popular software applications — and not just Microsoft’s.”

“Apple has issued patches for vulnerabilities 35 times since January 2005, including 12 this year. Seven have been to fix flaws in its popular iTunes and QuickTime digital media software. The most recent iTunes patch, issued June 29, plugs a security hole that could allow an intruder to execute malicious code. Apple turned down interview requests for this story,” Acohido writes.

“Apple and other software vendors are just starting to come to grips with security patches, says Scott Carpenter, director of security labs at Secure Elements. Unlike Microsoft, which has emphasized security since early 2002, Apple lacks a ‘well-developed process of notification and remedies,’ he says. ‘Apple’s message is, ‘You don’t have to worry about security with a Mac,’ but that’s just not true,'” Acohido reports.

More blah, blah, blah here.

MacDailyNews Take: Mac OS X. Virus-free for over 5 years and counting. Is it “smug” to state the truth?

Now, of course, nothing is perfect. Yes, certain applications, even some of Apple’s, have security issues that have to be shored up. Regardless of the platform you are doomed or privileged to be using, you should never download, install, and run applications from untrusted sources. If you adhere to that, on a Mac, you don’t have to worry about security today. Macs are vastly safer than Windows PCs because Mac OS X is inherently more secure.

What’s the real point of this B.S. article, Mr. Acohido? It seems like you’re trying to equate Apple’s security record with Microsoft’s horrendous ineptitude in that area. Why the FUD? Email info:

Did you ever wonder how much ad revenue USA Today receives from Microsoft and Microsoft Windows-dependent box assemblers? Off-topic? You decide.

By the end of 2005, there were 114,000 known viruses for PCs. In March 2006 alone, there were 850 new threats detected against Windows. Zero for Mac. While no computer connected to the Internet will ever be 100% immune from attack, Mac OS X has helped the Mac keep its clean bill of health with a superior UNIX foundation and security features that go above and beyond the norm for PCs. When you get a Mac, only your enthusiasm is contagious. More info: 114,000 viruses? Not on a Mac.

We now bring you our standard rehash of “Security Via Obscurity” mythbusting:

“Security via Obscurity” is a myth. Frankly, we thought we’d heard the last of it by now. But, here we go again: Mac OS X has zero (0) viruses. For over five years and counting. No Mac OS X users affected outside of a lab with old, non-updated Mac OS versions that they intentionally infected. Some in the press love to think “Mac OS X has viruses, too,” but they’re dreaming. It’s simply not true.

The idea that Windows’ morass of security woes exists because more people use Windows and that Macs have no security problems because less people use Macs, is simply not true. Mac OS X is not more secure than Windows because less people use OS X, making it less of a target. By design, Mac OS X is simply more secure than Windows. Period. For reference and reasons why Mac OS X is more secure than Windows, read The New York Times’ David Pogue’s mea culpa on the subject of the “Mac Security Via Obscurity” myth here.

Macs account for roughly 10% of the world’s personal computer users — (some say as much as 16%) — so the first half of the myth doesn’t even stand up to scrutiny. Macs aren’t “obscure” at all. Therefore, the Apple Mac platform’s ironclad security simply cannot logically be attributed to obscurity.

There are zero-percent (0%) of viruses for the Mac OS X platform that should, logically, have some 10-16% of the world’s viruses if platforms’ install bases dictate the numbers of viruses. The fact that Mac OS X has zero (0) viruses totally discounts “security via obscurity.” There should be at least some Mac OS X viruses. There are none. The reason for this fact is not attributable solely to “obscurity,” it’s attributable to superior security design.

Still not convinced? Try this one on for size: according to Apple last July, there were “close to 16 million Mac OS X users” in the world (even more today one year later) and there are still zero (0) viruses. According to CNET, the Windows Vista Beta was released “to about 10,000 testers” at the time the first Windows Vista virus arrived. So much for the security via obscurity myth.

Finally, does this seem “smug” to you?

Direct link to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxLdLBxHRkA

Related MacDailyNews articles:
McAfee expects 400,000 viruses by 2008 – July 06, 2006
Gartner analyst tries to propagate discounted Mac OS X ‘security via obscurity’ myth via BBC – July 06, 2006
Sophos Security: Dump Windows, Get a Mac – July 05, 2006
16-percent of computer users are unaffected by viruses, malware because they use Apple Macs – June 15, 2005
Apple: ‘Get a Mac. Say ‘Buh-Bye’ to viruses’ – June 01, 2006
Apple Macs and viruses: Fact vs. FUD – May 26, 2006
Mossberg: Is there a virus threat for Apple Macs? – May 11, 2006
Spate of recent Mac security stories signal that Microsoft, others getting nervous – March 06, 2006
ZDNet: How many Mac OS X users affected by the last 100 viruses? None, zero, not one, not ever – August 18, 2005
Hackers already targeting viruses for Microsoft’s Windows Vista – August 04, 2005
Intel CEO Otellini: If you want security now, buy a Macintosh instead of a Wintel PC – May 25, 2005
Defending Windows over Mac a sign of mental illness – December 20, 2003

42 Comments

  1. Lets see . . . .
    1)Patches and no problems

    or

    patches and a whole shit load of problems including restart, restart, restart, re-load, crash, worms, spyware, anti-virus software, restart, re-boot, re-load, . . . . which would you rather have.

    What a looser!

  2. And how many of these 35 vulnerabilities have actually been exploited out in the wild Mr. Acohido? That wouldn’t happen to be ZERO now would it? Oh, darn, it is zero.

    Yep, your article smells like a steaming pile of FUD to me too…

  3. Two other points:

    I don’t have exact numbers (MDN?), but during the OS 7,8,9 days marketshare was much smaller, and the platform was targeted

    People write viruses for obscure stuff, just because they can. For example:
    http://www.f-secure.com/v-descs/cabir.shtml
    Cabir, the bluetooth phone virus that can only transmit itself 60 feet, and even then only to someone who has discovery enabled. Many people want to wipe the smugness off our face, if it was easy, it would be done by now.

    Therefore it has to be due to a solid platform.

  4. Let’s remember Windows need to be insecure, there is a huge economy that depends on it. Just like we depend on the instability of other places for cheap profitable energy. Doing what’s best for people is never black and white. Doing what seems obviously right can put an unbelievable amount of people out of work.

    It’s great to be an underdog because you don’t have this responsibilty where you must manipulate your products and services to keep the partners happy, to keep everyone working. I would like to see Apple with more market share, but not too much more.

  5. The nerve of this guy to characterize Microsoft as being on top of seurity threats since 2002 while chastising Apple for apparently doing nothing. Maybe Apple just perfers to not make a huge deal out of the way they handle it, letting Software Update handle it quietly from time to time.

    And the guy in the commercial isn’t smug about anything, he’s just being real. Maybe the guy took offense because he woke up and realized he had been pouring his money and effort into a swiss chesese-like solution all these years. and wanted someone to take it out on.

  6. “Apple and other software vendors are just starting to come to grips with security patches, says Scott Carpenter, director of security labs at Secure Elements. Unlike Microsoft, which has emphasized security since early 2002, Apple lacks a “well-developed process of notification and remedies,”

    If you search for the history of viruses, you will see the Apple II was one of the first machines infected. Apple just learned from there lessons much earlier than 4 years ago.

    http://www.cknow.com/vtutor/HistoryofViruses.html

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