FUD Alert: CNET spews ‘Snow Leopard could level security playing field with Windows’ lunacy

Apple Online Store“Friday’s release of the new version of the Mac OS, dubbed Snow Leopard, could include some security features that would make it secure, or at least push it closer to the level of security that Vista and Windows 7 have, experts said this week,” Elinor Mills blathers for CNET.

MacDailyNews Take: What, Apple’s dumping the Mac OS X kernel, adding a fargin’ Registry, and opening ports at random in Snow Leopard? Give us a break, Ellie, you sound like an idiot.

Mills continues, “Contrary to popular Mac fanboy belief, Macintosh is not more secure from a software standpoint than modern Windows; it’s merely safer to use because malware writers prefer to target the platform with the biggest install base, according to Charlie Miller and Dino Dai Zovi, co-authors of The Mac Hacker’s Handbook, which came out this spring.”

MacDailyNews Take: “Mac fanboy belief?” The idiocy abounds. So, the so-called “experts” Charlie Miller and Dino Dai Zovi wrote a book. So has Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. When these self-proclaimed “experts” Miller and Dai Zovi come up with a self-propagating Mac OS X virus, give us a call. Until then, they should stick their endless FUD where the sun don’t shine.

Our firewalls are off: Bring it on, boys. Oh, what’s that, all of your “expert” exploits require physical access to our Macs? Or you need us to go to a special URL without having installed the last three Mac OS X updates? So, do you want our Admin passwords, too, or should we just enable root for you? Miller and Dai Zovi are the Victor Lustigs of security experts. Fuzz that, fuzzers. Ellie’s just another mark or willing accomplice.

Update: August 29, 2009, 12:23am EDT: This article was originally posted on August 27, 2009 at 11:48am. We’re still here. Our firewalls are still off and we’re still online with impunity.

Update: September 1, 2009, 3:09pm EDT: Yes, you guessed it, we’re still waiting. Our firewalls remain off. Some experts.

Yet again — sigh — it is utterly illogical to state or imply that the Mac platform is secure via obscurity. Why, if obscurity means security, in April 2007 was there a virus for iPods running Linux (a few thousand devices total, to wildly overestimate, in all the world), but there are no viruses in nine, yes nine, years for the over 30 million Mac OS X computers that are currently online? When we hit a nice round virus-free decade will these morons finally STFU? And, why would criminals not target the most affluent personal computer users, the tens of millions of Mac users around the world?

We’ve asked those and similar questions for years, yet the silence remains deafening and telling. Instead we get a steady stream of lies and/or ignorance, CNET’s specialty.

The idea that Windows’ morass of security woes exists because more people use Windows and that Macs have no security problems because fewer people use Macs, is simply not true. 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, The New York Times’ David Pogue, provides a concise mea culpa on the subject of the “Mac Security Via Obscurity” myth here.

Simple logic is certainly not what AV software peddlers, Windows PC box assemblers, and the leeches affixed to the Windows ecosystem want people to hear. Fear is what they’re after. The sheep must be kept in the Windows pen, no matter the cost to reputations, reality, productivity, sanity, etc. Far too many have far too much invested in Microsoft Windows for them to stand idly by and let it all slip away due to a vastly superior, vastly more secure solution from Apple. But, slip away it does nonetheless.

Every single time there is a Windows virus outbreak or a new OS release, the “Security Via Obscurity” myth gets trotted out. This is done for a reason, even though it gets more ridiculous with each passing year.

“Security via Obscurity” is a defense mechanism for the delusional and also tool for Microsoft apologists and/or those who profit from the Windows economy (see: the bulk of CNET’s ads) that’s designed to be used when attempting keep Windows sufferers from straying. 30 million Mac OS X installs is not “obscure” at all, but nine (9) years of Mac users surfing the Net unimpeded certainly is “secure.” Besides social engineering scams (phishing, trojans; no OS can instill common sense) 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 even more insecure Windows boxes.

The. Problem. Is. Windows. Get a Mac.

Mills continues breathlessly, “A screen shot published on the Mac Security Blog of Intego on Tuesday appears to show a security feature supposedly in Snow Leopard that looks like it is detecting a Trojan in a disk image being downloaded via Safari. The post cites unnamed reports about an anti-malware feature being added. ‘If it’s true, it will mark a fundamental change in that Apple will be admitting that their operating system is as susceptible to malware as other operating systems,’ Miller said.”

MacDailyNews Take: Charlie Miller, bullshit artist. In the sidebar of his otherwise uninteresting review of Snow Leopard, USA Today’s Ed Baig reports, “Macs are known for being resistant to PC viruses, a selling point in Apple ads. So reports from the Intego security software firm about an anti-malware feature in Snow Leopard raised eyebrows… Apple says Snow Leopard merely enhances the ‘File Quarantine’ technology, introduced in Mac OS X Tiger [emphasis added by MDN], for detecting malware. It works with files downloaded in Safari, iChat and Mail; if malware is detected, Snow Leopard suggests you move the file to Trash. Through the Mac’s Software Update technology, Apple has the ability to add the ‘signatures’ of new malware as it learns about them, potentially avoidng spreading malicious code.”

Mills continues spewing FUD in her full hit-piece – Think Before You Click™here.

MacDailyNews Note: Contact info:
Elinor Mills:
Scott Ard, CNET Editor in chief: contact via web form


  1. It is … interesting … that these … people … continue to insist on floating the “security via obscurity” myth. Well, “myth” may be too strong a word, perhaps “exaggeration”? There are more Macs out there than there were iPods running Linux – for certain – and there are more Macs out there than there were Vista Beta-testers – I believe – yet the smaller populations were hit, NOT the Mac. We KNOW the Mac has vulnerabilities, even if the Windows folk didn’t keep telling us, Apple keeps patching them. Maybe Mac users are just smarter? More cautious?

  2. I’m so tired of the “virus writers just don’t care about the Mac and would rather target Windows users” argument. Who wouldn’t want the notoriety of infecting a mass number of Mac computers all because they don’t run virus protection or spyware protection software?

    Who pays these writers anyway? It seems that since the invention of the Internet (thanks Gore), anyone is suddenly a journalist. My seven year old is smarter than a lot of the “experts” now days.

  3. The last time I tried to argue this with a friend who’d just bought a PC laptop (even though I’d told him not to) and was already complaining about all the troubles he was having, he totally lost it.

    He went off on a rant on me, and then proceeded to tell me how Macs DO SO have viruses, and gave me a web page that listed about 12 (that’s right, about 12) viruses, of which 11 were for OS 9 or earlier, and the one left was the trojan horse we’ve all heard about (which he vehemently argued was TOO a virus).

    He got even angrier when I laughed again.

    Obscurity? Puh-lease! Every university has a boon of Apple computers showing up in their classrooms. You’re telling me no one in their teens and 20’s (i.e. typical hacker age) has seen this?

  4. CNET is a joke when it comes to real technology news. There so bias towards Windows they must be getting paid by Microsoft.
    Here’s the real headline Cnet, Windows 7, trying to catch up to Tiger and failing miserably, film at 11.
    Get real, no one is fooled by your fiction anymore CNET.

  5. Contrary to CNET, OSX has never been compromised or cost companies BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN LOSSES BECAUSE OF LACK OF SECURITY unlike Microsoft.
    Nor has OSX ever been broken into in the real world contrary to your supposed fairy tale people.

    Where do these people make up such garbage?

  6. The security through obscurity myth baffles me. I even hear Apple friendly pundits endorse it. And it makes no sense.

    Hackers love to hack. Look back at the time when there were dozens and dozens of operating systems competing for dominance. There were very few actual computers in existence, but there were plenty of hackers attacking them.

    Second, there is a huge economic incentive to attack the Mac. It’s like saying that no criminal would want to go into the richest neighborhood because it “only” constitutes 10% of the population. That they’d rather spend their time robbing the other 90% because there are more of them.

    Finally, hacking the Mac is the Holy Grail of hacking! You’ve got to be kidding me if you think that every Tom, Dick and Harry wouldn’t love to create a virus just for bragging rights alone.

    OK. Enough ranting. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. But I’d like to have someone explain to me why the three points I’ve made above are invalid. To me the whole obscurity v. security myth is the biggest rationalization in the world. Macs don’t have viruses? Why could that be? Could it be because they’re more secure? Nahhhhhhhhhhhhh.

  7. These so called experts are Windows experts at best. I liken a Windows expert with somebody who grew up in North Philly. They’re street smart. They know where and where not to go. They’re extremely aware of daily violence, including drugs, gangs, shootings, etc.
    Now imagine that North Philly expert telling people that the Doylestown suburbs are just as bad because it’s known that some people forget to lock their doors.
    Nope. Doylestown is far safer, despite people leaving their doors unlocked.
    One reason is because those people, like Apple, care about their neighborhood.
    F Windows and its security nightmares. F Windows apologists. Enjoy your $399 desktop that comes free with identity theft software.

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