Why Is the Mac More Secure than Windows?

Discussion in 'MacBytes.com News Discussion' started by MacBytes, Jun 1, 2007.

  1. MacBytes macrumors bot

    Jul 5, 2003
  2. DMann macrumors 601


    Jan 13, 2002

    Windows has thousands of gaping portals to sneak through, thanks to Bill G wanting integration between the OS and the internet. Besides, Unix is a much more stable and secure platform, and has fewer places for spyware to hide and propagate.
  3. joelovesapple macrumors 6502a


    Sep 25, 2006
    Thought everyone knew this in the tech community.:rolleyes:

    Unix underpinnings, anyone?:cool:
  4. nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    Article has some nice reference links with info on viruses by OS:


    "most Windows users hate the Macintosh and, moreover, Mac users"

    No way :) Only a (vocal) minority have emotional ties to Microsoft and against Apple. The majority are not tech-savvy like us forum-goers. The majority don't even THINK about the Mac platform, much less have any reason to hate it. It's not even on their radar when it comes time to choose a new machine.

    It makes sense for Mac users to hate Windows (which only a vocal minority do) because we are often forced to use Windows at work. But Windows users are almost never forced to use Macs. (And when they are they don't tend to mind as much as they expected.) So there's really nothing to hate, unless you have that emotional tie to Microsoft and feel insecure about it.
  5. SPUY767 macrumors 68000


    Jun 22, 2003
    I stopped reading this tripe after the dumbassed author decided to issue a blanket statement about how Mac users hate Windows.
  6. nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    Gotta love eweek's other sensationalist headlines such as "Apple Tries to Plug Holes in Mac OS X Security"... an article which makes no mention of why they use the word "tries."

    No FUD here ;)
  7. big_malk macrumors 6502a

    Aug 7, 2005
    Perhaps they couldn't find any new holes to patch?
  8. BenRoethig macrumors 68030


    Jul 17, 2002
    Dubuque, Iowa
    Windows also has a lot of legacy code in there to make it more backwards compatible. Apple thankfully made the tough choice to sacrifice backwards compatibility (to a degree) for a totally new operating system designed for the internet age. The transition was hard, but I'm glad they did it.
  9. Analog Kid macrumors 601

    Analog Kid

    Mar 4, 2003
    Mostly a rehash of everything we've heard before. A few quotes worth highlighting though:
    This is an important point-- any potential attacker can have a pretty good idea of what the system is they're attacking when it comes to the Mac. We're almost all running identical configurations.

    The flip side of that is that almost all of us stay patched up, as well. I wish someone would analyze the differences between Apple's software update and Microsoft's and figure out why Apple has been more successful. Is it in the implementation, is it differences in trust for allowing the two companies to install software automatically, is it that Apple has had a better (though not perfect) track record in not causing more problems than they solve?
    There's the key. I think this is for a few reasons. Most of the exploits publicized have been local, not net-borne. Apple's public interface is pretty robust, and, as stated over and over, most services are turned off because it's easy to know what to turn on and what to turn off. This is also where market share plays in-- I don't buy the argument that with 5% marketshare we should have 5% of the viruses. Computer viruses, like biological ones, require host to host contact to spread, otherwise they die off. With fewer machines, they will spread at a slower rate than their mortality rate.

    Of course this there isn't a pure mathmatical way estimate that either, at least not without taking into account the fact that Mac users tend to cluster and seek each other out when using certain services.

    This is worth highlighting simply because it is the stupidest security argument I've ever heard.
  10. PCMacUser macrumors 68000


    Jan 13, 2005
    The VAST majority of Mac users I know do hate Windows. In fact, I don't think I have met a single Mac user who doesn't mind Windows. Ever.

    I disagree with your argument here. It doesn't make sense for Mac users to hate Windows because they're forced to use them at work. When you are employed by a company, they are paying you to do a job, not to have fun messing around with an operating system. It's like saying 'I prefer to use red screwdrivers, because red is my favourite colour. I hate blue screwdrivers'. In a workplace you use computers as a tool, not a toy.

    If you use a Windows computer in the workplace, you have to ask yourself 'why do I use a Windows PC?'. Chances are, the software that you are using on it is not available on the Mac platform (that's certainly the case for the jobs I've had). Therefore, if you are using a Windows computer and you'd rather be using a Mac, it should make you hate the software companies who refuse to make Mac versions of your software, rather than Windows.
  11. FullmetalZ26 macrumors regular

    Jun 12, 2006
    I don't think this is a close enough analogy. We're not just talking about 'messing around' with a toy, we're talking about getting things done. Say you're required to use scroll saws at work. You prefer using jigsaws. Jigsaws may be a little more difficult to cut around corners with, but they handle knots and tough spots in the wood better, and the blades don't tend to snap in half like the blades on scroll saws do. In short: Mac users may become irritated that Windows machines at work, which are often not well maintained, can be problematic much more than their own beloved machines are at home. I can attest to this, as our CRM software at work runs only with IE6, .NET and Java. As you can imagine, it's slow, flaky, and tends to require frequent clearing of the Java and IE caches to keep it working.
  12. JNB macrumors 604


    Oct 7, 2004
    In a Hell predominately of my own making
    That sounds horrifyingly familiar...
  13. PCMacUser macrumors 68000


    Jan 13, 2005
    Well, my analogy was a little rough I'll admit! But I think ultimately, if someone has difficulty getting their work done on a Windows PC, then clearly some training is required.

    This kind of illustrates why we can't always blame Windows. You're obviously stuck using crappy CRM software. The software company should produce a better product. I'm not going to tell you to buy new CRM software though... The company I've been working for is planning on purchasing some and the price is somewhere around $1 million. And that's just for the disks.
  14. nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    "Just a tool" is an often-repeated argument for why Windows is "good enough." As though every OS is equally good at everything except being fun. But that's not the case. Preferring a BETTER tool--one that is easier to use, less trouble-prone, requires less support and training, has more features, works with you instead of annoying you, or whatever--makes good sense.

    As for not hating Windows because it's not Microsoft's fault... well, some things are MS's fault and some aren't, but the effect is the same. Luckily, MS and Windows don't have feelings to be hurt :) Some Windows USERS do though, if they feel an emotional tie to Microsoft. (Which is a weird concept, but clearly true--for a vocal minority who can't stand to hear bad things about Windows.)

    My point was simply that people often have to use Windows when they'd prefer Macs, while the reverse is seldom true.

    Agreed that the mathematical relationship would not be 1-to-1. (It would, however, be greater than zero, if OS X and Windows were truly equal in their security design, as some would have us think.)

    And any mathematical comparison tends to single out just one or two factors--like number of patches, or number of patches this month, or number of users on the Internet. In reality, it's never so simple. Lots of factors add up to the actual current security situation for a given OS:

    * Underlying design of the OS on multiple levels
    * The default security and updating settings for the OS
    * Complexity of the code for the OS and bundled third-party components
    * Bugginess or stability of the OS and third-party components
    * Number of people looking for vulnerabilities, and the tools available for doing so
    * Number and frequency of patches
    * Whether a vulnerability is revealed to the vendor first or to the public
    * How quickly patches came out after vulnerabilities are discovered
    * How often the patches break other things
    * How easily the patches are distributed and installed
    * How much the company issuing the patches is trusted by its users
    * How many unpatched vulnerabilities have been discovered
    * How many vulnerabilities are still waiting to be discovered
    * How easy each vulnerability is to implement
    * What each vulnerability can actually achieve once exploited
    * How much malware exists to exploit each vulnerability
    * How effective anti-malware apps are against that malware
    * What publically available tools and information exist to help create such malware
    * How many users of the OS are on the Internet
    * What their habits and security settings are
    * What levels of technical know-how and naivety they exhibit
    * What versions of the OS and anti-malware software they are running
    * What third-party apps they run
    * What profit is to be gained by attacking those users
    * What prestige is to be gained by attacking those users
    * What personal destructive satisfaction is to be gained by attacking those users
    * The likelihood of the above factors getting worse or better over time, and how quickly
    * What people perceive about the above factors, vs. the reality
    * Who gets the "blame" or "credit" for the above factors are (if that even matters)

    Given all that complexity, it makes little sense when people single out a couple of factors and a couple of anecdotes and say that Windows is as secure as Mac OS X (or better). So how can we look at that big, complex picture, and figure out whether Macs are more secure or not?

    Well, duh... Macs still don't have any successful malware :)

    But people will continue to say that "doesn't matter," or that it's always "just about to change completely for the worse." They apply whatever reasons they can come up with by singling out certain details from the larger picture, and completely miss the forest for the trees: there is no way that Macs will be anywhere NEAR as susceptible to attack as Windows, ANY time in the foreseeable future.
  15. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Or, clearly, the particular Windows software one is using is inferior to the equivalent Mac software. ;) If some of the programs I regularly use are cross platform and the Mac version is better no amount of Windows training is going to improve my Windows experience.

    Your screw driver analogy is flawed because it assumes everything is functionally equal and only superficially different. A better analogy might be using a Snap-On screwdriver vs a Craftsman screwdriver.

  16. inkswamp macrumors 68030


    Jan 26, 2003
    That whole argument about how Macs are only safer because of their low marketshare has always struck me as a way for MS apologists/Apple haters to simultaneously write off any criticism of MS and take a slap at Macs.

    Here are a couple of things I always point out when this argument comes up.

    1. Macs, unlike in the 90s, are now Unix computers. They run many of the same processes and daemons that Unix and Linux machines run. From that perspective, they are part of a much larger market than machines just sold by Apple. So, where are all the viruses and exploits?

    2. Apache has a larger marketshare than IIS, but it's the latter that has more security issues and they are typically more serious ones. (BTW, this is not my observation. I read this in an article a couple years ago.)

    Seems to me the common thread here, and the most logical explanation, is Microsoft being inattentive to security when it comes to writing software. That seems a more likely explanation than the Mac's marketshare.
  17. solvs macrumors 603


    Jun 25, 2002
    LaLaLand, CA
    And that others with even lower marketshare had viruses. Forgetting Vista, which had a virus before it even came out, and WinCE, OS 9 and before have had viruses, despite lower marketshare. Even Linux is not immune, Linux on iPod even had a virus (talk about low marketshare), so it's not just the UNIX base.
  18. PCMacUser macrumors 68000


    Jan 13, 2005
    Um, actually, that's exactly what I'm saying. I believe that Windows and OS X are functionally equal and only superficially different. Each has its own operational strengths. Sure there might be a few security holes in Windows (as there are in OS X), but nothing that a little bit of common sense can overcome. It's like locking the house before going shopping, or wearing a seatbelt in a car. Sure, in an ideal world we wouldn't have to do those things, but hey, it's all about reality. And the reality is that most business software is designed for Windows; equivalents don't exist in the OS X platform 90% of the time, and either way, big corporations only want to deal with respectable companies - which rules out most OS X-friendly software houses (no offence meant here, but there's only a handful of well-knowns, eg, Adobe, Roxio, um...?).

    Please don't misinterpret me though, I only have one computer at home, and that's an iBook running Tiger. It's great for that stuff, browsing, e-mail, multimedia, but when it comes to business and 'out of the square' kind of things, Windows has the edge.

    <Braces for flames>
  19. solvs macrumors 603


    Jun 25, 2002
    LaLaLand, CA
    As a person who does support for both, I can tell you that is patently false.
  20. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Oct 9, 2006
    There are a lot of reason why OSX is more secure than windows. One reason that can not be removed is market share and you also have "taking down the man" mentality that also hits M$. Plus because of the legacy code issue it hurts m$. You have to remember M$ cab not drop it like apple did because of it raw size. M$ size size is one of the reasons they move slower. Apple is a fairly small company and can easily adapt and adjust to new problems.

    You have to give m$ credits for finally changing the default setting on windows updates to automatic installing them. Just the default time is rather crappy unless you never turn your computer off. I think it should default to installing the updates when they come in and set an automatic reboot when required to 3-4am by default because that would get the people who turn off their computer every night the updates installed. Most of the computers that have virus/worm problems are the ones that are not up-to-date.
  21. jettredmont macrumors 68030

    Jul 25, 2002
    Yes, in both you have to lock the door before leaving the house. Just happens that to "lock" the Windows door you have to hire a contractor or nail the doors and windows shut and when locked you're functionally crippled (because you can't open the windows and doors).

    Yet another pathetic log on the computer analogy bonfire ...

    Why would you equate "respectable" and "well-known"? I'd take one or two OmniGroups and BareBones over the thousands of shaky VB houses on Windows any day ...
  22. anti-microsoft macrumors 68000

    Dec 15, 2006
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    Some of them do:rolleyes: :D
  23. DMann macrumors 601


    Jan 13, 2002
    Enormously Different

    Night and day, and much more than superficially different....... Vista has me trapped in a cave with no openings, and still, the malware sneaks in. Incidentally, equivalents indeed do exist 97% of the time. For those few which don't, Parallels works just fine. When Leopard comes out, we'll likely be able to run all Windows apps without launching Windows at all.
  24. PCMacUser macrumors 68000


    Jan 13, 2005
    I think you've just demonstrated the 'hate' factor amongst OS X users against Windows. Well done! :D

    You also managed to belittle me by saying that my analogy was 'pathetic'. You get a hate bonus point for that. Nice one.
  25. PCMacUser macrumors 68000


    Jan 13, 2005
    Well, as someone who does support for both, I can tell you that it is true :D

    Come on mate, we all have different experiences right? In the last organisation where I was supporting both Macs and PCs, we had about 10% Macs and 90% PCs. But the support problems we had with the Macs took 50% of our time to fix. Usually they involved reformatting hard drives and reinstalling the OS. On the Windows PCs you could usually just reinstall the app and it was working again. So there you go... different experiences, different conclusions.

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