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MacBytes
Feb 5, 2004, 06:46 AM
Category: Opinion/Interviews
Link: Can Apple Keep the Worms Out? Mac owners have long boasted of their immunity to viruses. But with Unix-based OS X, it's a whole new ball game (http://www.macbytes.com/link.php?sid=20040205074634)

Posted on MacBytes.com (http://www.macbytes.com)

Approved by arn

billyboy
Feb 5, 2004, 09:47 AM
Macs are safe.


Safety by obscurity is fooey. Unix is global. Saying there is no buzz in attacking OS X is crud. Imagine the kudos of writing the first virus for OS X. Saying that programmers need to study hard to make viruses for current generation Macs is way off base too. It is apparently quite easy to write a "virus" for Unix. The almost insurmountable problem is getting the virus to do any worthwhile damage.

montex
Feb 5, 2004, 11:06 AM
Well written article. I've heard too much of the "safety through obsecurity" myth and now I have the ammo I need to point out exactly why Macs are more secure.

Makes you think that entering your password so often isn't as much of a hassle considering the alternative.

Marble
Feb 5, 2004, 11:07 AM
Of course UNIX is a different ball game. We weren't immune to viruses then, now we are. I agree that the immunity by obscurity cliche is naff. UNIX is used bloody everywhere!

Yawn.

iJon
Feb 5, 2004, 11:25 AM
tick tock tick tock, its been 3 years and im still waiting.

iJon

Keynoteuser
Feb 5, 2004, 11:44 AM
It's probably the fact that the virus writers want to stick it to MS till it topples. They are probably Unix or Linux users anyway, so why write a virus for your own platform?

I just wish we could sue the person who first opened the stupid virus for clogging up our inboxes with useless attachements!

nagromme
Feb 5, 2004, 01:55 PM
The article isn't mindless Apple-bashing, it explains a few reasons WHY OS X is more secure than Windows--even if it opens with some mindless bashing of Apple journalists!

Mac users don't claim OS X will never get viruses. They claim that with OS X:

* We have no viruses now (true)

* We have never had any (true)

* There are many flaws an Windows we don't have (true)

* There are important security measures in OS X that Windows doesn't have (true)

* Our OS is based on open-source UNIX which has, as a group, proven more secure than Windows (true)

* Windows is--in part--a bloated, complex mass of backwards-compatibility code, fixes on fixes, and marketing-based decisions, of a level of complexity far beyond anything from Apple (true)

* Windows is patched constantly, requiring hugely more labor to keep secure than Macs do (true)

And virus writers DO have incentives to attack OS X:

* Plenty of people are jealous of Macs and hate Mac users

* Cracking contests award extra points for cracking Macs

* It's a standing, public challenge, to those who like challenges, that OS X has never had a virus

* Macs are based on UNIX which means less to learn from scratch

* Many high-profile specific targets use UNIX/Linux, including some on Mac OS X--like the US Army web site. Macs are not just "a bunch of advertising agencies" and "grade-schools"

* Whatever the percentage, attacking millions of OS X users is not something every hacker will find "small"

* Cracking Windows is actually look down up in some circles as too easy and no fun. Thus the insult: "script kiddies"

Given all that, it is impossible that nobody is trying to attack OS X. Fewer than attacking MS? Sure. But the attempt is being made and has been for some time. It just hasn't succeeded yet.

Security through obscurity? Yes, fewer people try to attack OS X than Windows. Yes, that's a GOOD thing, and one more reason to buy a Mac. But it's not the basis of Mac security.

Everyone knows that someday OS X will be compromised. It's simply far less likely, and probably with far less destructive results, than Windows users face.

billyboy
Feb 6, 2004, 09:37 AM
Originally posted by nagromme

Everyone knows that someday OS X will be compromised. It's simply far less likely, and probably with far less destructive results, than Windows users face.

I believe the only feasible way to cause mass destruction on an OS X system ie get to root, is to actually get you to install a copy of the OS with the virus pre-installed.

One good reason not to buy OS X second hand from auctions. Let's hope Apple have got 100% control of what they put on a disc!

evil_santa
Feb 16, 2004, 04:44 PM
Originally posted by billyboy
I believe the only feasible way to cause mass destruction on an OS X system ie get to root, is to actually get you to install a copy of the OS with the virus pre-installed.

One good reason not to buy OS X second hand from auctions. Let's hope Apple have got 100% control of what they put on a disc!

or download it. !