Apple’s Mac OS X is inherently more secure than Microsoft’s Windows

Apple Store“In case you missed it, there’s a virus for the iPod. Yep, that’s right, your MP3 player is a veritable hotbed of virus activity — but only if you’re running the iPod Linux distribution, and only if you take great pains to make the virus function, since it doesn’t really work. We can argue about whether or not this code actually constitutes a virus, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make,” Paul Venezia writes for InfoWorld.

“The point here is that if it has a CPU, hackers will try to break it, and virus writers will try to write a virus for it. Given that there are probably only a few hundred — maybe a thousand — iPods running Linux out there, the fact that someone took the time to write this virus, or malicious code is an example of why Apple detractors clamoring that Macs aren’t a target due to the lower market share are all wet. I ranted on MOAB two weeks ago, pointing out that most of their bugs were either local exploits or issues within third-party applications, and there has never been a virus in the wild for OS X, much like there’s never been one for Linux. The difference isn’t market share, it’s the foundation of the operating systems,” Venezia writes. “Given that most virus authors and hackers are in it for the ego, don’t you think that there would be a huge incentive to be the first one to write a widespread OS X, Linux, or FreeBSD virus?”

Venezia writes, “If an OS is built on shaky ground, everything layered on top will suffer. This is the position that Microsoft is in now… Microsoft OSes began with no security. Windows 95 through ME had varying levels of front-end password-based security bolted on at some point, but it was hardly layered through the entire OS like UNIX. They weren’t multi-user environments so interprocess security wasn’t seen as an issue, and remote exploits were all over the place since they weren’t built for network use. The NT base of Windows 2000, XP, and now Vista provided a much better security model and had some multi-user roots, but had to carry the burden of compatibility with code written for the original, completely insecure Win95 base. Simply put, Microsoft had the chance to beat Apple to the punch and make a giant leap back in 1997 or so, killing off the existing Win32 platform in favor of an NT-based client and server that did not have to run legacy applications natively. They didn’t, and we are still paying the price for it today.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Gort” for the heads up.]

MacDailyNews Take: “Security via Obscurity” is a defense mechanism for the delusional. 22+ million Mac OS X installs is not “obscure” at all, but 6+ years of users surfing unimpeded certainly is “secure.” The only thing by which Mac users are really affected are large swaths of compromised Windows machines slowing down the ‘Net with spam and nefarious botnet traffic targeted at exploiting more insecure Windows boxes. Get a Mac.

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27 Comments

  1. Security through obscurity can account for there not being (hundreds of) thousands of exploits since many will be very similar to others but even if there was 1 widespread Mac virus the numbers just wouldn’t stack up. There is a vastly disproportionate number of security problems for OS X – because it is secure.

  2. I can imagine some Windows-based hacker kid getting a Mac somehow to try and write the world’s first widespread Mac virus… two hours into it, he’d instead be goofing off in Photo Booth and showing his hacker friends Expose and the Genie effect. “Dude, and check out what happens when I hold Shift and click Minimize… Whooooa.”

  3. Is it really true that OSX (MDN preaches this) and Linux have NO, ZERO, virus’ in the wild?

    I have been well aware of OSX claiming this. But Linux? I thought Linux has had a few virus in its time.

  4. You know…I tried getting a virus once for shits-n-giggles and could not do it.

    Probably because I am not completely geek-savvy, but for a normal computer user trying to get a virus…OSX is STILL secure.

  5. Wow, someone objective actually gets it right. It’s amazing how far a little research and intelligence can go. Enderle, Turdrott, Dvorak and many other so called “tech writers” could learn a few things from this guy.

  6. I recently got my new “Vista Ready”, but running XP, Doze box at work. While it was being hooked up, I mentioned I used OS X at home. He said he wished our company would go to Apple in the next fiscal year. He just happens to be our IT department’s virus specialist/troubleshooter. Do you think there’s any connection?

  7. have been well aware of OSX claiming this. But Linux? I thought Linux has had a few virus in its time.

    I’m sure they do…. Everybody has a virus or 2 except OSX. And it never will have one.. Everything else is Junk… WOOOOO HOOOOO!!!

  8. Never used AV software, never will. Hopefully?

    Once or twice a year, I run scan my Mac with the free ClamXAV antivirus, just to make sure I’m not harboring anything that might hurt my Window using friends. Never a problem for me, but it is just being a good citizen.

  9. Have to use a Windows laptop for a business trip. Connected to the hotel high-speed network two nights ago, used the latest Firefox, had all the latest Windows security updates (supposedly–‘doze update didn’t pick up anything), but it STILL managed to get hit with something.

    Inexplicably the firewall was off, but this just goes to show that there’s still some rogue service that’s running by default.

    Spent last night getting the latest virus updates and making sure it’s clean.

    F^%$&^%*& Microsoft and *^!@(&^ Windows. Can’t wait to get back to a real computer and a real operating system at the end of the week…

    MW: “tax” as in MS’ Swiss cheese of an OS is taxing my extremely generous patience.

  10. “Security via obscurity” is a myth. Mac OS X is inherently more secure than Windows. But there is one more factor to consider. It’s security via Windows being such a pathetically easy target in comparison to Mac OS X (or Linux).

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