ZDNet’s Kotadia: Symantec’s Mac OS X spyware prediction in flames

“Symantec published its 10th Internet Threat Report this week and quietly admitted a few days later that its predictions of increasing Mac-targeted spyware threats have not been realised,” Munir Kotadia reports for ZDNet Australia.

Kotadia reports, “Unsurprisingly, Symantec didn’t make any mention of its inaccurate prediction in the latest report, so I thought I would ask about the omission. It seems Mac spyware was not mentioned this time around because there were no new dangerous Mac-related threats in the first six months of the year.”

“My previous blog entry seems to have stirred up some emotions at a certain Mac-focused Web site,” Kotadia reports. “Unfortunately, the anonymous writer has misinterpreted my question to Symantec as disappointment that there was no mention of OS X malware. Actually, I was pointing out that the company’s predictions 18 months ago have been as accurate as Bill Gates’ predictions about spam.”

Kotadia reports, “But the important point is this, regardless of how much people shove their head in the sand and scream ‘I must be safe because I have a Mac, I must be safe because I have a Mac,’ OS X does have security vulnerabilities. If it didn’t, why would Apple release regular security patches? Luckily the system has been designed with security in mind, so vulnerabilities are very difficult to exploit and most require socially engineered user interaction.”

Kotaida then weakly pushes readers to other articles of his – featuring news we’re long since covered here – seemingly in order to create an excuse to get in one last immensely unoriginal and vastly overused insult, “Instead of publishing religious fanboy rants, maybe their time would be better spent reading about how Norton Anti-virus makes OS X less secure or why Bootcamp is an expensive downgrade for the Mac.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: While it’s very nice to see Mr. Kotadia now reporting some sound information, we’d like to know why he laced his past reports of supposed “Mac OS X security threats” with such hyperbole? (Please see related articles marked “Munir Kotadia” below.) We also wonder exactly who is “shoving their head in the sand and screaming ‘I must be safe because I have a Mac, I must be safe because I have a Mac?'” Not here. The day we accept a lecture on Mac OS X security from Munir Kotadia is the day we dump Mac OS X and switch to Windows XP.

As we just stated on Tuesday for the umpteenth time, “Remember, do not download, authorize, and install things on your Mac from untrusted websites.”

Some people, when they get called on the carpet, like practice transference. They casually invent some issue, try to slip it into the conversation, and then lecture about it in order to shift the spotlight from themselves. Let’s ignore Munir’s attempted diversion and refocus the light on his original blog entry that rasied our ire yesterday. In it, Kotadia wrote the following:

…Apart from Leap-A or the Oompa-Loompa virus, Mac users have enjoyed a seemingly uneventful time when it comes to malware. Of course Apple has, deservedly, been slated for its hardware troubles but that is another issue entirely.

We challenge Munir Kotadia to produce one Mac customer (outside of a lab or someone’s imagination) that was actually affected by the Leap-A or the Oompa-Loompa “virus” in real life. (Note: “Leap-A” and “Oompa-Loompa” are two different names for one issue, not two separate issues as Kotadia’s awkward wording implies, whether intentional or not). If he actually does find someone, how were they affected exactly?

We’d also like to know why Kotadia feels the need to remind his readers about “Apple hardware troubles” in an article about software security if not to put some sort of negative spin on Apple Macs. We see absolutely no reason for that sentence — as Kotadia freely admits by describing it as “another issue entirely” — other than to slam Apple.

If this is a new leaf for Kotadia regarding his reporting of Mac OS X security, then we applaud it. We’re glad that he followed up on the flameout of Symantec’s predictions. We just hope Kotadia works on the other internal issues he seems to have with Apple and/or Macs, since said issues are oftentimes leaking out between and smack dab in the middle of his lines of text.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Symantec report fails to mention any threat of ‘Mac OS X malware’ – September 27, 2006 (Munir Kotadia)
ZDNet Australia publishes yet another Mac OS X security FUD article – January 26, 2006 (Munir Kotadia)
ZDNet Australia publishes latest Mac OS X security FUD article – September 09, 2005 (Munir Kotadia)
Joke of the month: Gartner warns of Mac OS X ‘spyware infestation’ potential – March 30, 2005 (Munir Kotadia)
Symantec warns about Mac OS X security threat – March 21, 2005 (Munir Kotadia)

Symantec sees browser security bugs climb, Safari bugs double – September 25, 2006
Symantec researcher: At this time, there are no file-infecting viruses that can infect Mac OS X – July 13, 2006
Symantec CEO: We think more people ought to buy Apple Macs – May 15, 2006
Ars Technica: Fears over new Mac OS X ‘Leap-A’ trojan pointless – February 20, 2006

Why Symantec’s ‘scare tactics’ don’t worry Mac users – September 28, 2005
Motley Fool writer: ‘I’d be surprised if Symantec ever sells a single product to a Mac user again’ – March 24, 2005
Symantec cries wolf with misplaced Mac OS X ‘security’ warning – March 23, 2005
Symantec’s Mac OS X claims dismissed as nonsense, FUD – March 22, 2005
Symantec warns about Mac OS X security threat – March 21, 2005


  1. I posted this at the end of the comments for the earlier article. I should have realized MDN would create this new article, as the circumstances warranted doing so. I said:

    Hey, MDN is mentioned (and linked to) in the update! And because we called him on it, we’re all “religious fanboys” now! Ahhh, nice to know that, even if the spyware FUD is gone, the mindless sprouting of certain clichés by “professional” tech writers never, never goes away.

    (Translation: Kotadia has successfully trolled me for a website hit — something I try to avoid after looking at too many Thurrott articles.)

  2. That’s why I read MDN…for the very best, most logically thought-out retorts and challenges to FUD spreaders, who typically show up on M$FT’s “most influential” Windows columnists list (like Thurrott, et al).

    Yes, they actually have one of those lists.

  3. The main problem I have with articles and opinions like this, is that no matter what happens, PC-zombies can still come out of it smelling of roses.

    If viruses happen, then PC-zealots can say, “Yes the Mac is becoming more popular, but look – now you’re getting viruses, which proves that the Mac isn’t more secure as Windows, because viruses are obviously down to the size of the target, so you may as well buy Windows.”

    If viruses don’t happen, then PC-zealots can say, “The reason you don’t get viruses, is because nobody buys Mac, so the virus writers don’t see you as a potentially lucrative target, so you may as well buy Windows.”

    Whatever happens, we can’t win.

  4. The main reason why there is malicious logic out there, is to keep fuel on the fire.

    Internet security is HUGE business. In order to keep that business going…you need a steady supply of fuel (i.e..viruses, spyware, adware, etc.) Do you not all think that companies like Symantec and McAfee pay people to create the latest malicious logic?

    Its a conspiracy I tell ya. And I don’t agree with it. Thats why when I created OSX, I made it very hard for the average person to infect his/her own computer…and even more difficult to spread it to another Mac.

    Granted…you will see attempts at attacking OSX, but I assure you that my Apple minions are 5 steps ahead. Lucy down in Hell created Symantec and McAfee. Don’t look at me.

  5. In a few years all these idiots will be eating humble pie. Mark my words!

    They will go with the FUD right till the end because they are stupid, stubborn ignorant people who lack the ability to research anything themselves and just write the same crap over and over until they believe it becomes the truth.


  6. Their shrill, lying voices aren’t resonating well with the technology buying public the way it used to resonate. These charlatans will have to find a new source of payola real soon: 

    Mac market share growth (install base growth), iPod/iTunes dominance and iTV on the horizon means the effectiveness of these propaganda trolls is seriously waning. 

    Rock on Steve!

  7. I think there’s a bigger story here. Someone should ask Kotadia about that nasty Apple logo shaped scar on his butt. Weird fraternity ritual gone awry or secret self experimentation with lingering remorse? Only the Shadow knows.

  8. Still can’t figure out how MDN misunderstood the original positive article, which was not having a go at OS-X at all, but which was having a go at Symantec for sweeping the security under the carpet.

    Did you need a Wayne’s World style NOT! in there to understand it properly ?

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