Seattle Times FUD: ‘there are a great number of viruses that can afflict Apple computers’

Patrick Marshall answers reader’s tech questions for The Seattle Times:

Q: I’m considering purchasing my first Apple iMac computer, the type that can run both Apple software and Windows software. How should I protect my system from viruses, scams and intrusions under this duo system? If I communicate through e-mail via the Apple side will I be protected from viruses? I’ve read that the only reason there aren’t many viruses for the Apple is because the hackers haven’t been that interested in “attacking” that system. Is that true or is there a difference in how the different systems communicate with the Internet environment?

Phil, Tacoma

A: You definitely want to install and maintain up-to-date anti-virus software for whatever operating system you’re going to use. Yes, there is some truth to the notion that there are fewer viruses that attack Apple Computer systems, in part because the operating system is less popular. It’s understandable that a virus writer would want to make the biggest splash possible. But there are a great number of viruses that can afflict Apple computers. For more information, you may want to take a look at SecureMac.com.

At the same time, it’s true some operating systems are more vulnerable than others. There are reportedly more vulnerabilities that can be exploited in Windows XP than Mac OS X. But that can be taken as a challenge by virus writers, too. Until the first virus appeared for Mac OS X, there was quite a bit of speculation about how long it would take. I’m sure there were a number of virus writers competing to see who could be the first.

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “BillH” for the heads up.]
The Seattle Times, huh? What a joke. A sad joke, but a joke nonetheless. Seriously, people are reading this idiot for tech advice! Granted, most of his readers probably work for Microsoft, which may actually explain a lot of things…

Anyway, there’s less misinformation and FUD thrown around at the bi-weekly Dvorak-Enderle-Thurrott coffee klatch than by Marshall in this mess of an answer. This isn’t Marshall’s first time down this road, either, See: Q&A Columnist uses ‘security through obscurity’ myth to defend Windows vs. Mac on virus issue – October 04, 2003

You’ll definitely want to think long and hard before installing, maintaining, risking stability, and wasting processor cycles on meaningless anti-virus software for Mac OS X. Do it if you want to fruitlessly attempt to help protect the indefensible Windows from viruses you might pass along that do not affect your Mac. Why pay Symantec et al for flawed “security” applications designed to protect Apple Macs from nonexistent threats?

“There are reportedly more vulnerabilities that can be exploited in Windows XP than Mac OS X,” Marshall wrote. We’re still laughing at that one. Patrick Marshall: Master of Understatement and General Cluelessness.

Mac OS X has zero (0) viruses; doing the Macarena or similar dances in AV company labs doesn’t affect real users. “Security via Obscurity” is a myth. For over five years and counting, no Mac OS X users have been affected outside of a lab with old, non-updated Mac OS versions that they intentionally infected.

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 just because less people use OS X, making it less of a target. By design, Mac OS X is also 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.

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 solely 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? According to Apple CEO Steve Jobs at WWDC 2006, there are “19 million Mac OS X users” in the world. Yet, still, there are zero (0) viruses. Quite the mathematical conundrum, huh? 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.

Contact info:
Becky Bisbee, Seattle Times Business Editor: bbisbee@seattletimes.com
Patrick Marshall: pmarshall@seattletimes.com or pgmarshall@pgmarshall.net

Related articles:
Symantec Antivirus software flaw allows hackers to seize control of PCs without user interaction – May 25, 2006
Sophos anti-virus software mistakes real files for pests, breaks Mac OS X systems – February 22, 2006
Why pay Symantec for flawed ‘security’ app designed to protect Apple Macs from nonexistent threats? – December 27, 2005
‘Highly critical’ flaw in discovered in Symantec AntiVirus for Mac OS X – December 21, 2005
Symantec details flaws in its antivirus software – March 30, 2005

Symantec details ‘Macarena’ Mac OS X ‘proof-of-concept virus’ – November 03, 2006
Microsoft’s Windows is inherently more vulnerable to severe malware than Apple’s Mac OS X – August 23, 2006
Chicago Tribune falls for the ‘Security Via Obscurity’ myth – August 14, 2006
Get a Mac: Viruses, spyware cost U.S. consumers $7.8 billion over last two years – August 08, 2006
Symantec researcher: At this time, there are no file-infecting viruses that can infect Mac OS X – July 13, 2006
Sophos: Apple Mac OS X’s security record unscathed; Windows Vista malware just a matter of time – July 07, 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
Apple: ‘Get a Mac. Say ‘Buh-Bye’ to viruses’ – June 01, 2006
Analyst: McAfee’s recent Apple Mac security report is ‘sloppy scaremongering’ – May 08, 2006
Apple: ‘Leap-A’ not a virus; only accept files from vendors and Web sites that you know and trust – February 16, 2006
FBI: Viruses, spyware, other computer-related crimes cost U.S. businesses $67.2 billion per year – February 01, 2006
Security company Sophos: Apple Mac the best route for security for the masses – December 06, 2005
Apple Macs are inherently safer and more secure than Microsoft Windows – November 22, 2005
BusinessWeek columnist propagates discounted ‘Apple Mac security via obscurity myth’ – September 06, 2005
Hackers already targeting viruses for Microsoft’s Windows Vista – August 04, 2005
16-percent of computer users are unaffected by viruses, malware because they use Apple Macs – June 15, 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
USA Today calls iMac G5 ‘exquisite’ but implies Mac OS X more secure than Windows due to obscurity – September 30, 2004
Another columnist trots out Mac OS X ‘Security through Obscurity’ myth – April 03, 2004
Gates: Windows ‘by far the most secure’ system; tries to use ‘Mac OS X secure through obscurity’ myth – January 27, 2004
Q&A Columnist uses ‘security through obscurity’ myth to defend Windows vs. Mac on virus issue – October 04, 2003
Columnist tries the ‘security through obscurity’ myth to defend Windows vs. Macs on virus front – October 01, 2003
New York Times: Mac OS X ‘much more secure than Windows XP’ – September 18, 2003
Shattering the Mac OS X ‘security through obscurity’ myth – August 28, 2003
Is Mac OS X really inherently more secure than Windows? – August 26, 2003
Virus and worm problems not just due to market share; Windows inherently insecure vs. Mac OS X – August 24, 2003

64 Comments

  1. Welcome to the world of being average, being like all the awful PCs that you guys around here have for so long said were so ter

    Srible.

    How do you like being no better than those you have so long condemned?

    Say goodbye to everything you have always thought was so special about Apple’s stuff.

    Steve has sold out and we are the victims.

  2. Pat:

    I hear that Windows is susceptible to malware. Would you list them by name according to category? Thanks.

    Bill

    Bill:

    Well, Bill, I could but there aren’t enough trees in Washington to make the paper. Sorry.

    Patrick Marshall

  3. It’s amazing that some people will pontificate on subjects they absolutely have no first hand knowledge.

    I bet PM actually has little or no Mac experience.

    I used to believe the “security through obscurity” myth as a PC owner. Once I switched I realised just how wrong I’d been. The OS is simply much more secure without over burdening the user with hoops to jump through like Vista.

    Not a day goes past that I don’t miss the PC shit.

  4. You know, you win a lot more influence with honey instead of vinegar. MDN’s approach assumes that you are ignorant of nothing and can speak expertly on any topic. When you guys can speak with such authority on “everything” then you will have earned the right to speak down to those lesser beings who by ignorance or design, err.

  5. Once again MDN miss the blatantly obvious facts. Yes Macs have less users, now why would viruses come out for Windows Vista…hmmm, maybe because it’s going to be their flagship product and sell infinitely more copies than MacOSX? I mean come on, just get a fscking grip and report things as they are, not so biased.

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