New switcher, how secure is Safari 2.0

jeff_siler

macrumors 6502
Original poster
May 4, 2005
367
39
Hi all,

As a recent switcher I am so excited to be using my new ibook g4. On my PC i only use Firefox for my web browser. For extra security I have Firefox setup to never save history, auto-fill text, or any passwords.

I notice that with safari 2.0 in tiger that everything is autofilled, histories are saved etc. How safe am I if I leave these settings on.

I did notice that there is a "Private Browsing" mode, but every time i restart safari i have to restart this service. Too much of a pain.

My bottom line question is, Should i try and figure out ways to hide history, auto-fill, password etc on safari, or am I safe without changing much.

thanks so much,

jeff
 

VanNess

macrumors 6502a
Mar 31, 2005
901
157
California
Safari is very secure, but more importantly OS X is infinitely more secure than Windows XP (including SP2) and it's predecessors.

First, regarding your specific concerns, you can turn off autofill by going to Safari's preferences (in the Safari menu select preferences, or just type the command key and comma key together). In the preference pane, you'll see a tab called autofill. Select that and uncheck anything you don't want Safari to remember. You can also set your cookie prefs in the security tab. History doesn't have a switch in Safari, it's always on. However, you can download the freeware maintenance utility Onyx which, among it's many maintenance options, deletes Safari's history.

If you're really worried (and most shell-shocked former Windows users who have been beaten up over and over again by security lapses in Microsoft's software usually are) you can open system preferences (available from the Apple menu item in the menu bar at the top of your screen) and select "Sharing." Select the Firewall tab and turn it on. Next, since your there in the firewall pane, select "advanced" and check "enable stealth mode."

If you do all of the above, you will be more secure on the net beyond the wildest dreams of any Windows XP (SP2) user, and you don't need any virus protection software/updates/gimmicks, etc. You're good to go.

Sometimes, the difference between Microsoft and Apple; the difference between OSX and the Windows OS, gets lost. Malware on the net targets Windows more so than OS X because, of course, it's a bigger target. But it's also an easier target. Years ago, Microsoft basically sat back and watched as script kiddies took over their operating system. Their reaction? Time to enter the video game market. Now, thanks in no small part to MS, malware /spyware/trojanware Inc., has evolved into a billion dollar industry and it's not just script kiddies anymore; there are seriously sophisticated and clever programmers doing the work now. As long as you have the "system registry" and activeX on your Windows computer, you are vulnerable.

OS X has no "system registry." There is no "activeX". The entire OS is based on a flavor of Unix that benefited from years of active development and deployment in University and College campus networks where software that wasn't secure wasn't an option. OS X is highly fortified with a permissions based file system. Windows permissions? Well, they might get around to it in Vistahorn...maybe.

The other major problem in the Windows world is acceptance. Windows users tend to think viruses/spyware/malware are just a fact of life on the internet and third-party security software is part of the experience of turning on your computer. Of course, Mac users know otherwise. Instead of taking Microsoft to task on issues such as activeX and the system registry, Window's user have learned to accept it. In one sense, who can blame them? Microsoft isn't exactly paying attention to them. Notice how much time (and pain) has gone by since Explorer 6 came out without an update. Notice how much time it took to wrench SP2 out of Microsoft. Look how long it's taking just to get a working version of Vista into someone's - anyone's - hands. There's no sense of urgency; insecure software is okay. We'll get around to it one of these days.

If you hang out long enough on the Mac boards, you wouldn't believe the amount of screaming, belly-aching and whining when something comes up that MIGHT become a security issue - if certain other conditions also happened, etc., etc. And Apple hears about it in spades. Nothing like exists in the Windows world - whatever the Windows world actually is, lol.

In any event, Apple has shown that they take the security of their OS extremely seriously, as security updates and patches are issued on a regular basis although nothing threatening exists in the wild. Unlike Microsoft, Apple has put the message out early on - via proactive security patches - that any prospective virus writers or malware developers have their work cut out for them. It won't be as easy on the Mac platform as it always was with Windows.

Anyway, hope that answers your question, lol.
 
Comment

mkrishnan

Moderator emeritus
Jan 9, 2004
29,776
12
Grand Rapids, MI, USA
jeff_siler said:
I did notice that there is a "Private Browsing" mode, but every time i restart safari i have to restart this service. Too much of a pain.
The previous answer was really good, so I just want to add... if you are already in private browsing mode, what's making you have to quit and restart safari? Just leave it running.
 
Comment

alex_ant

macrumors 68020
Feb 5, 2002
2,473
0
All up in your bidness
Must... combat... Unix revisionist history

I'm sorry to go off topic, but I can't help it. OK, Unix is a lot better than it used to be, but I cannot let this slip by. It used to really suck. As recently as the mid-1990s Unix was AWFUL at security, just as bad as Windows is today, it's just that nobody heard about it because most people didn't run Unix, they ran Windows or Mac, and whenever they heard Unix they thought of the popular myth: "Powerful. Secure. Industrial-strength." Hahaha
VanNess said:
OS X has no "system registry." There is no "activeX". The entire OS is based on a flavor of Unix that benefited from years of active development and deployment in University and College campus networks where software that wasn't secure wasn't an option.
AHAHAHAHAHA

Every possible thing that could have gone wrong with Unix did, and it has taken 30 years to get Unix's security vulnerabilities down to a manageable level. Dire is the only way to describe Unix's track record in this area. Sendmail, nfs, ftpd, all the little useless network daemons, exploding like time bombs and sending shrapnel all over the internet. Horrible.

OS X is highly fortified with a permissions based file system. Windows permissions? Well, they might get around to it in Vistahorn...maybe.
(Aside from the fact that NTFS has permissions as well, it's just that most Windows users choose to log in as the administrator at their own peril):
Unix permissions are notoriously inflexible, insecure, and screwed up. They have been a contributing factor to countless critical vulnerabilties over the years. Fortunately, most Unixes now ship with sensible defaults, although there are still oversights such as, whoops, that executable is group-executable and it shouldn't be, so now some dude can use a buffer overflow to write a bunch of garbage into some config file somewhere and get root.

In any event, Apple has shown that they take the security of their OS extremely seriously, as security updates and patches are issued on a regular basis although nothing threatening exists in the wild.
True. It's taken way too long to get to this point, though.
 
Comment

Jedi128

macrumors 6502
Jul 7, 2005
274
0
New York, NY
Years ago, Microsoft basically sat back and watched as script kiddies took over their operating system. Their reaction? Time to enter the video game market.
Thats sooooo funny, lol............ Laughed out loud when I read it. Comparing Windoze to X is funny at times.............
 
Comment

jeff_siler

macrumors 6502
Original poster
May 4, 2005
367
39
This is one of the most well thought out replies I have ever read. Thank you for the tips (ive applied all of them). Its so nice to see a community like this :) I'm glad I switched.

Jeff

VanNess said:
Safari is very secure, but more importantly OS X is infinitely more secure than Windows XP (including SP2) and it's predecessors.

First, regarding your specific concerns, you can turn off autofill by going to Safari's preferences (in the Safari menu select preferences, or just type the command key and comma key together). In the preference pane, you'll see a tab called autofill. Select that and uncheck anything you don't want Safari to remember. You can also set your cookie prefs in the security tab. History doesn't have a switch in Safari, it's always on. However, you can download the freeware maintenance utility Onyx which, among it's many maintenance options, deletes Safari's history.

If you're really worried (and most shell-shocked former Windows users who have been beaten up over and over again by security lapses in Microsoft's software usually are) you can open system preferences (available from the Apple menu item in the menu bar at the top of your screen) and select "Sharing." Select the Firewall tab and turn it on. Next, since your there in the firewall pane, select "advanced" and check "enable stealth mode."

If you do all of the above, you will be more secure on the net beyond the wildest dreams of any Windows XP (SP2) user, and you don't need any virus protection software/updates/gimmicks, etc. You're good to go.

Sometimes, the difference between Microsoft and Apple; the difference between OSX and the Windows OS, gets lost. Malware on the net targets Windows more so than OS X because, of course, it's a bigger target. But it's also an easier target. Years ago, Microsoft basically sat back and watched as script kiddies took over their operating system. Their reaction? Time to enter the video game market. Now, thanks in no small part to MS, malware /spyware/trojanware Inc., has evolved into a billion dollar industry and it's not just script kiddies anymore; there are seriously sophisticated and clever programmers doing the work now. As long as you have the "system registry" and activeX on your Windows computer, you are vulnerable.

OS X has no "system registry." There is no "activeX". The entire OS is based on a flavor of Unix that benefited from years of active development and deployment in University and College campus networks where software that wasn't secure wasn't an option. OS X is highly fortified with a permissions based file system. Windows permissions? Well, they might get around to it in Vistahorn...maybe.

The other major problem in the Windows world is acceptance. Windows users tend to think viruses/spyware/malware are just a fact of life on the internet and third-party security software is part of the experience of turning on your computer. Of course, Mac users know otherwise. Instead of taking Microsoft to task on issues such as activeX and the system registry, Window's user have learned to accept it. In one sense, who can blame them? Microsoft isn't exactly paying attention to them. Notice how much time (and pain) has gone by since Explorer 6 came out without an update. Notice how much time it took to wrench SP2 out of Microsoft. Look how long it's taking just to get a working version of Vista into someone's - anyone's - hands. There's no sense of urgency; insecure software is okay. We'll get around to it one of these days.

If you hang out long enough on the Mac boards, you wouldn't believe the amount of screaming, belly-aching and whining when something comes up that MIGHT become a security issue - if certain other conditions also happened, etc., etc. And Apple hears about it in spades. Nothing like exists in the Windows world - whatever the Windows world actually is, lol.

In any event, Apple has shown that they take the security of their OS extremely seriously, as security updates and patches are issued on a regular basis although nothing threatening exists in the wild. Unlike Microsoft, Apple has put the message out early on - via proactive security patches - that any prospective virus writers or malware developers have their work cut out for them. It won't be as easy on the Mac platform as it always was with Windows.

Anyway, hope that answers your question, lol.
 
Comment
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