Lack of Apple Mac malware baffles expert

Apple Store“Apple’s Mac OS X remains almost completely free of any sort of malware threat despite several years of availability, a significant market share, and even an entire month dedicated to pointing out its flaws,” Shaun Nichols reports for vnunet.com.

Nichols reports, “And security experts are not exactly sure why. In an article for the McAfee Avert Labs blog, security researcher Marius van Oers pointed out that Mac malware is ‘pretty much non-existent at the moment.'”

Nichols reports, “The researcher said that out of 236,000 known pieces of malicious software, only seven affect Mac OS X. ‘With an estimated OS X market share of about five per cent on desktop systems we would expect to see more malware for OS X,’ said van Oers.”

“The Mac OS X system is not inherently more secure than other operating systems, according to the researcher,” Nichols reports.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Mac OS X is inherently more secure than Windows. Period.

Here we go again, once more for old time’s sake:

“Security via Obscurity” is a myth. Mac OS X has zero (0) viruses. For six years and counting. Zero Mac OS X users affected outside of a lab with old, non-updated Mac OS versions that were 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 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 operating system release, according to analysts at Bank of America Securities, there are “22 million Mac OS X users” in the world 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.

Related articles:
Microsoft’s Live OneCare ‘security’ failureware: dead last in test of 17 Windows security apps – March 07, 2007
Bill Gates has lost his mind: calls Apple liars, copiers; slams Mac OS X security vs. Windows – February 02, 2007
Security firm: 38-percent of malware already Windows Vista-compatible – January 22, 2007
FUD Alert: CNET tries to equate Windows’ insecurity to handful of Mac OS X proof-of-concepts – December 02, 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
Symantec details more security holes in Microsoft’s Windows Vista – July 26, 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
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
16-percent of computer users are unaffected by viruses, malware because they use Apple Macs – June 15, 2005
Another columnist trots out Mac OS X ‘Security through Obscurity’ myth – April 03, 2004
Columnist tries the ‘security through obscurity’ myth to defend Windows vs. Macs on virus front – October 01, 2003
Shattering the Mac OS X ‘security through obscurity’ myth – August 28, 2003
Virus and worm problems not just due to market share; Windows inherently insecure vs. Mac OS X – August 24, 2003

98 Comments

  1. I think the concept of zero scares people.

    There are scarier things, though.

    Ballmer in swimwear.
    Gates disco dancing.
    Michael Dell singing karaoke. In a Speedo.
    Watching Rob Glaser eat fajitas.
    John Dvorak wrestling seventh graders.
    Upgrading to Vista.

  2. Answer…age old and tested nearly hand-written Unix kernel,
    a real modern day long-term plan before writing the OS, not after, quality Objective-C code, and a little thought about how much trouble it would be later if they just packaged up the code and threw it out the door and make the end user and consumer sheep beta test it like Micro$oft has always done.

    Instead of making swiss cheese and later plugging up the holes, Apple has made a long-term modern day solid block of impenetratable concrete.

  3. No there are several OS X viruses, and at least a half a dozen rootkits available.

    Problem, OS X ships with the features that those viruses need to spread turned off. So you can only attack targets that have opened themselves up to the attacker. Most people who know enough about OS X to use those features also know enough to secure them.

    Unix security is relatively simple compared to windows has available. of course as Scotty says in Star Trek 3. The more they over think the plumbing the easier it is to stop up the drain.

    Windows has numerous design flaws that lead to easy execution of code. *nix based OS’s solved those design flaws decades ago.

    It is a whole lot harder to crack an OS X machine. It isn’t impossible, but it definitely not the work of a script kidde.

  4. @peragrin,

    “No there are several OS X viruses, and at least a half a dozen rootkits available.”

    Care to name them?

    No answer? Well STFU you troll.

    MW: boy – even a boy can write a virus for windows.

  5. “The Mac OS X system is not inherently more secure than other operating systems..”

    Sure it isn’t, because you only need one exploit to root a box.

    Amount of exploits on each platform is irrelevant!

    It’s like two whores who are arguing who is more the virgin by comparing how many times and how they have had sex.

    In the last few months Apple and software makers have/have patched:

    31 issues, of which:

    23 in software by Apple
    1 in software by Adobe (because it installs using the admin password)
    1 in software by Insanity LLC. (wise folks shouldn’t use APE framework and modules)
    1 in software by Videolan (update VLC now!)
    1 in software by The Omni Group
    1 in software by Javelin.cc
    1 in software by Maxum Development
    1 in software by Panic Inc.
    1 in software by Telestream/Microsoft (Microsoft software shouldn’t be used regardless)

    31 issues, of which:

    17 in OS X
    8 in third party apps not installed by default
    3 in Apple apps installed by default
    2 in a third party app for OS X and Windows, not installed by default
    1 in an Apple app not installed by default
    1 in an Apple app for OS X and Windows

    The reason Apple’s exploits don’t get as far as Microsoft’s is because of market share!

    Also

    1: Apple fixes their exploits rather quickly usually.

    2: The Russians and Chinese can’t afford Mac’s.

    If someone has a hard on for your box, they only need ONE exploit, not thousands!

    Remember that. Don’t be a smug MacHead.

  6. OSX was built with Security first, not as an after thought. So the fact that malware is virtually non-existant in OSX is easy to understand just like the lack of viruses are also non-existant in OSX.

  7. C’mon MDM, there is no sound reasoning that says Macs should have 10 to 16 percent of viruses if the “security by obscurity” myth were true. That is a very poor counter argument.

    And your other poor reasoning example that Vista had viruse(s) when only 10,000 copies were out, as opposes to Mac’s 22 million copies is also bogus. Why? Because everyone knows that soon enough 90% of computer users will be using Vista. There is no strong evidence that the Mac OS is going to displace the use of Vista.

    I know that Macs have no viruses because the Mac OS is indeed much harder to violate, but quit using the stupid “should have 10-16 % of viruses” arguement. It is very weak.

  8. New way to upgrade a PC to Vista:

    – Turn on all the flashy crap in XP
    – Change the background image
    – Take some memory out of your PC
    – Clock down the CPU

    Easier and cheaper. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

    Glad I have a Mac.

    MW: want, I WANT Leopard… :-p

  9. The patches are irrelevent; the bottom line is NO VIRUSES. That could change, but for now, why is that such a hard concept for Doze apologists or the self-proclaimed “realists” to put in context w/Doze? Jeez.

  10. actually Jim, i don’t know if you are aware of this, but if you ask a question and then state that he has no answer in the same post, you aren’t really giving him a chance to answer….

    he is right though, there have been a hand full of exploits based on the BSD system and underlying tools, but they are not things that you can use on a Mac because it is closed down. they can be opened again, but if you know enough to do that, you know enough to roll your own BSD/Linux and secure it, so securing an OS X box should be a cake walk for you.

    the security of OS X is vastly superior to anything MS has ever made, we all know that. but calling someone a troll for pointing out facts makes you look bad. especially when he is pointing out how secure the Mac is, and you think you are defending the Mac.

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