Apple’s Mac OS X security strategy differs from Microsoft’s Windows

“As Apple has increased its share of the computer market, hackers have become more interested in developing exploits for its software vulnerabilities. Like Microsoft, Apple must issue security patches from time to time, but the two companies have very different distribution approaches for their security fixes,” Jim Offner reports for MacNewsWorld.

“‘Software update’ is common parlance among regular computer users,” Offner reports. “More than likely, an ‘update’ is a ‘patch’ — a code modification designed to protect against the latest virus, worm or other security threat.”

Offner reports, “Patches are all in a day’s work for Microsoft and Apple engineers. Indeed, the second Tuesday of every month has become known in tech circles as ‘Patch Tuesday.’ That’s when Microsoft issues its latest updates for its operating systems and applications.”

“Apple disseminates patches on a less-predictable schedule,” Offner reports. “Does Apple need to adopt a more regular routine as its platform becomes more popular among consumers, or is Patch Tuesday more about enterprise users — an area in which Apple’s business has not grown as substantially? Or is a more flexible, whenever-it’s-needed strategy a better idea, regardless of who’s using the OS?”

Full article here.

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

32 Comments

  1. I like how the entire article is fairly reasonable, and takes great lengths to see both sides of the issue and the pros and cons of each approach, …

    … then the last paragraph just throws out the (completely unsupported) idea that “Apple might have to change it’s policy,” (based on the similarly unsupported and un-stated assumption that Apple is “slow” at handing out patches), and leaves it there stinking at the end. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

    Classic dumbass writing.

  2. First off, Windows has a HUGE market share that demands it’s updates occur more frequently because of the impact of even minor security issues.

    Apple has allowed SERIOUS public vulnerabilities to go unchecked for several months before issuing a fix.

    So the answer in my opinion is yes, Apple needs to issue more frequent updates, but then we all know that Apple rolls OS X features (bloat) into those updates first and treats the security issues as second rate.

    Is Apple’s approach better than Microsoft’s?

    If you go by vunerabilities, then of course the answer is yes.

    But Apple could do better to not allow any vunerabilty the chance to exist more than a few days or weeks, instead of waiting for months before a update.

    Who knows what has hack our boxes?

    And what about checking the current install of OS X for alterations with each update? Instead of just fixing the bugs?

    How do we know if something bad hasn’t altered OS X itself from previous exploits?

    For instance with Windows, once it’s compromised, it has to be cloned from a pristine copy with all the current updates before getting on the interenet/LAN. Because the previous exploit turned the OS into swiss cheese.

    What is Apple doing about that? Huh?

    Anyone? Bueler?

  3. Raving MacHead – Well, you got half of your name right anyway.

    Raving – because I live/work near a severely Liberal Flamer enviroment with Leftist Loonies from hell.

    MacHead – because I’m a lifelong Mac user from day one. But now forced to use Windows (VISTA and XP under Fusion 2.0, nice) because I predict Apple will no longer offer a matte screen laptop and will have to buy a DELL.

    Now you know why I’m MAD as a hatter.

    That’s hatter not hater. You Liberal SWINE!!

  4. If microsoft do release security patches on the second Tuesday of every month, doesn’t that mean that they hold back security fixes for up to a month?

    Making fixes available when tested seems better to me. It does not prevent IT teams from having their own ‘patch tuesday’ if they want to work to that schedule.

    Though I did agree with a point above, that Apple might do better to separate out security fixes from feature updates, to make sure we always get ( and apply ) the latest fixes. I’d like Apple to work at the speed of AntiVirus.

  5. “MacHead – because I’m a lifelong Mac user from day one. But now forced to use Windows (VISTA and XP under Fusion 2.0, nice) because I predict Apple will no longer offer a matte screen laptop and will have to buy a DELL.”

    Chill dude. Just apply a matte film to the thing and quit whining.

  6. Raving Machead,

    2 things: Time Machine was never advertised or intended to be a bootable clone, but it does what it is supposed to do – back up files! It has saved me big time on more than one occasion.

    The issue with a Winblows computer needing to be offline to be repatched after it has been compromised speaks to the ubiquitous nature of Windoze viruses, the vulnerability of the OS, and how quickly a machine can become compromised. So, why does Apple have to do something for a problem that doesn’t exist on their platform?

  7. @Raving MacHead

    RTFM;

    Boot from your installation disc, go to utilities menu and choose “restore from TM”, follow the instructions.

    You have just done a complete restore of a bootable OS using Time Machine, so there is no need to boot from your Time Machine backup.

  8. It’s true … Apple has left several serious potential vulnerabilities open for multiple patch cycles. You’d almost expect us to have mal-ware up the gooch by now. Funny … I don’t recall having to clean out any infestations. Did I miss something?
    And … how does Mac use equate to “liberal”? “W” uses a Mac, as does Rash Limburger! Many of the Mac folks who get their Mac news here are conservatives – and many of the loonies who hang around just to flame seem conservative as well, but … who can tell? <b><i>MDN, any way to tag the platform and/or browser a poster uses? Be interesting to know.

  9. To raving machead:

    You’re somewhat confused on how time machine works. It’s true that you cannot boot from a time machine backup, but then again why in the world would you want to?! I can see it now, a machine infected with a trojan that stays in ram after a warm reboot (it’s happened before) boot off the backup, and it becomes infected.

    No, the proper way to do this is boot fresh off a non-writable presite source, AKA your leopard install disk. And right from the pull down menu of your leopard installer there is an option to restore from time machine.

    So in essence, yeah you can restore right from a time machine backup as long as you have the leopard disk.

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