BBC News “ClickBack” program’s online column answers questions and comments from viewers on technology matters:
Henry Winckelmann from Oxford said:
I’m disappointed, but not particularly surprised, to see you reporting on potential security issues on the yet to be released Windows Vista. Isn’t it true to say that any such piece which does not refer to secure operating systems with a proven track record (such as Mac OS X) is simply encouraging ignorance in the computer-using population? Shouldn’t you at least state the obvious, namely that there are wildly better, well proven alternatives to the feature-poor, insecure code which finds its way out of Microsoft?
Welcome to the age-old argument about which is more secure – Windows, Linux or OSX.
Henry, if you are saying that Mac OSX has had less security attacks than Windows, then you are absolutely right. No-one has ever denied that.
The question has always been: Why? Is it because it is more secure? Or is it because fewer people try to hack Apple?
All the security experts we have spoken to say the same thing – whilst OSX is a beautiful piece of software, it is still a highly sophisticated operating system, and it still receives regular security patches, just like Windows.
Apple only has small percentage of the market, tiny compared to Microsoft, and the logic is that if you are going to write a piece of malware that goes after the most people, do you write it for OSX, which, according to Apple, has around 15 million users, or do you go for Windows, which, depending on whose numbers you use, has anything up to a billion users?
I think it is a fair argument.
Full article here.
[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Mr Skills” for the heads up.]
MacDailyNews Take: Note first that ClickBack did not answer Mr. Winckelmann’s central question, to paraphrase, why did their report on personal computer security fail to mention the most secure PCs, Apple Macs?
Now, in their response, ClickBack asks whether Mac OS X is inherently more secure OR is Mac OS X more secure because fewer people try to hack it. The response is flawed. The real answer is quite simple: Mac OS X is inherently more secure AND Mac OS X is secure because fewer people try to hack it.
There are 19 million Mac OS X users according to Apple (Steve Jobs, WWDC 2006), not 15 million as ClickBack states. Regardless, this is certainly a smaller number than Windows users, but it is not a small number by any stretch of the imagination. The only small number is the number of Mac OS X viruses in the wild that have affected Mac OS X users: zero (0). The absence of a single virus, for over five years of Mac OS X’s existence, proves the platform’s inherent security. It is not without flaws, however: flaws that Apple routinely fixes before they affect users. Since fewer hackers are looking to exploit Mac OS X (and because Mac OS X’s Unix foundation is time-tested by decades of use), Mac OS X users are even safer.
Windows suffers such massive and ongoing security woes for the inverse reasons that Mac OS X avoids such issues: Windows is inherently insecure and Windows is insecure because many people try to hack it.
By design, Mac OS X is simply more secure than Windows. 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.
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