Security through Obscurity Myth pops up again

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by MacSA, Mar 20, 2007.

  1. MacSA macrumors 68000


    Jun 4, 2003

  2. patrick0brien macrumors 68040


    Oct 24, 2002
    The West Loop

    Well, let's be honest, there is a grain of truth to the "Security to Obscurity" factor. However, I believe it is a lot smaller - let emphasize: a LOT smaller that many would like to think.

    It would be interesting to compare the 'grains of truth' of the "Security Through Obscurity" factor, and the "Hubris" Factor. I'd be willing to bet that Ballmer's, Gates', and others schoolyard antics in public, not to mention the nonsensical market math (Zune #2 selling mp3 player?!?) gets hackers attention better than purely it's distro.
  3. Mr Skills macrumors 6502a

    Mr Skills

    Nov 21, 2005
    Apple sell almost as many Macs each year as the number of Amigas ever sold, ... yet the Amiga scene was rife with viruses (this is before the internet was widespread, too!).

    When will people understand that, for security-via-obscurity to work, the platform actually has to be obscure?

  4. topgunn macrumors 65816


    Nov 5, 2004
    Maybe we shouldn't be asking why Macs (or for that matter all Unix varients) are so secure but rather why Windows is so insecure. If Windows were secure, it wouldn't be an issue. It is more like saying Viral-Dominance through Prominence.

    Edit: I came across this article and it is probably the best and most comprehensive article on security in general that I have ever read. The link above is to the second to last page which has the header "Unix vs. Microsoft Windows".
  5. patrick0brien macrumors 68040


    Oct 24, 2002
    The West Loop

    Oh that's easy. Windows is still based on a code design from the 1970's a time that an almighty 'Internet' was unimaginable. So It wasn't even considered.

    Unix, however, was designed spcifically for networking.
  6. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    The answer is "Hell Yes". Do you know how "cool" it would be to be the first person to author a major Mac virus? That is a huge motivator. To be able to say "I did it. I proved all those Apple fan boys wrong" But you know what? It ain't happened yet even with such a great reward up for grabs.

    You don't see Solaris viruses and you don't see Linux viruses either. The reason is not for a lack of Solaris or Linux system but because it is just so hard to write them
  7. Shadow macrumors 68000


    Feb 17, 2006
    Keele, United Kingdom
    Erm, what? To be totally honest, its the Mac which is based upon code from the 1970s, not the PC. Mac OS X is based on UNIX, made by Bell Labs in the 1970s as a timeshare system, but it was still designed for networking.

    Windows NT (Windows NT 3.1 and later, not 3.1, 95, 98 or Me) and later is (obviously) based on Windows NT (or New Technology) which has made during the late 1980s, early 1990s. It was designed for networking, albeit not on the scale of the Internet, therefore causing security problems. Microsoft hopes of totally drop the Windows NT codebase for the next version of Windows, codenamed Windows Vienna.
  8. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Wrong UNIX predates almost everything

    Not quite right....

    UNIX was started in the late 60's but mostly written in the 1970's at a time when the almighty 'Internet' was imaginable. UNIX and especialy the "BSD UNIX" on which OS X is based pre-dates Windows by at least a decade.

    Any one who had a degree in Computer Science in the early 80's Windows was first written would have studied networking and known about the 7 layer model and how IP packets are routed. It was pretty much required corsework by then

    Networking was added to UNIX only later after it was already someyears old, mostly by a group at UCB.
    My dates may be mixed up but I absolutely remember seeing and using an ARPA-net connected computer at UCLA before 1976 and doing a telnet session to a remote computer.

    The real reasons for the difference between DOS/Windows and UNIX is that way back in 1969 when UNIX was born computers were so expensive that they had to be shared between many users to justify the cost. So the OS was written to allow the machine to be shared. It was assumed from the beginning that while you were logged on there would be other people logged on at the same time that you may not even know or trust. Also they invented ways to access the computer remotely so it would be shared by even more people. Even before the 'net there were remote users sharing the computer. All this before the first PC and DOS.

    When the PC cames out the model was "one machine per person" and they awere not networked. Heck without a hard drive, and the floppy stored in the desk drawer there was not way to steal or damage the data so zero thought was given to protecting anything. Then as thing progressed market forces wanted "backwards compatibilty" . Any new OS that broke old program would not sell. So DOS 3 had to be able to run older DOS2 programs and Windows had to be able to run DOS programs and so on to Vista. "backwards compatibilty" will one day be the death of Microsoft.

    UNIX was designed not to keep people off of "your" computer but rather to facilitate other people's concerent use of the machine. So rather then develop defensive firewalls and the like they designed the system with the goal that no user should be able to affect another users use of the machine.

    You also have to look at the people who wrote both DOS/Windows and UNIX. The UNIX guys were mostly academics and researchers interested in the theory of operating systems and looking for a way to conduct experiments and push the state of the art. You could say it was written by and for a small community of researchers. They did not intend to sell anything. DOS/Windows was written with the goal of getting something out quickly that could be sold.
  9. patrick0brien macrumors 68040


    Oct 24, 2002
    The West Loop
    Well my bad for not stating every fact.

    You gent's are correct in the age of UNIX harkens way back to the '60's and AT&T. My comments on the codebase Microsoft is built on is one not designed for robust networking, e.g. the Internet. And there's good reason for this as one couldn't even send emails on ARPANET until Compuserve in 1979.

    And Microsoft has largely build upon that. Yes, they've attempted to thro out that old code along the way, most famously with Windows NT, but due to the need for legacy support, had to continue to retain that code.

    As for the evolution of the internet, I'm lazy:Linkypoo

    The point I'm trying to make, and please read the spirit of my words, Windows, is patently more vulnerable as networking has not been a priority for them, and it's hard to change an ingrained corporate behavior.
  10. phidauex macrumors member

    Feb 26, 2007
    If the security by obscurity myth was true, then Linux servers would have tons of viruses plaguing them, and windows servers would be fine, since in the webserver world, linux has more than half the market share, and Windows has only a small fraction.

    But sorry, Linux is very well off when it comes to security and viruses. Clearly "the biggest marketshare attracts the virus writers" isn't true...

  11. MisterMe macrumors G4


    Jul 17, 2002
    This really depends on what you mean by started. Unix is a product of the 1970's. Bell Labs and Honeywell worked on an OS based on Honeywell's Multics, which goes back to the 1960's. After Honeywell dropped out, Bell Labs continued the work on a cutdown version of Multics which it called UNIX. Although the C programming language followed Unix, it helped to get the OS out of the laboratory. One a personal note, I was working as a student intern at Bell Labs in 1974 when K & R's Programming in C was released as a technical report to Lab personnel.

    As for viruses, the spread of viruses certainly speeded with the advent of electronic bulletinboards and the Internet. However, MS-DOS suffered mightily under the burden of viruses transmitted by floppy disk. Although Macs were much more likely to be networked than MS-DOS computers, Macs had fewer viruses. With the advent of viral threats, the Mac community responded with freeware and commercial antivirus software such as the freeware Disinfectant and Symantec's Symantec Antivirus for the Macintosh aka SAM. The design of the Macintosh allowed antivirus software to work with certainty. By the time MacOS X was released, the number of new Mac-specific viruses dwindled to the point where there were fewer than one per year. MacOS X reduced that number all the way to zero (0).

    Although networkability enabled DOS/Windows viruses to spread at an increasingly rapid rate, it actually helped to kill MacOS 9 viruses. This was because all antivirus software updates were distributed over the various commerical and free networks and bulletinboards. Also, MacOS X eliminated viruses as a threat to Mac users once and for all. OTOH, Windows XP has seen the most egregious malware ever on the Wintel platform.

    "Security through Obsurity" is not a myth. It is an outright lie created by Bill Gates in the 1999-2000 timeframe in response to the heavy onslaught of Windows malware at the time. The popular media, Windows apologists, and the easily convinced glommed onto Gate's lie and accepted it as gospel.
  12. FrankBlack macrumors 6502


    Dec 28, 2005
    Looking for Lucy Butler
    Indeed. That person would be a living legend,,,in his parent's basement, where he spends most of his time anyway. ;)

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