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Want Security? Make The Switch 549

Posted by Hemos
from the plus-it's-just-nicer dept.
Lord_Slepnir writes "Security firm Sophos Security has released a report claiming that Macs will be more secure than Windows for some time to come. The report listed the 10 most common kinds of malware, and noted that they can only infect Windows systems."
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Want Security? Make The Switch

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  • by eno2001 (527078) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @09:49AM (#15659700) Homepage Journal
    Anyone who is in "the industry" knows this. They just like to say the things people like to hear though...
    • by DieNadel (550271) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:01AM (#15659772)
      True.

      I think we'll never see mass-migration influenced by arguments like those on the article.

      People has been saying that security is THE good argument for switching forever, be it Linux, Solaris, BSD or Mac folks, but this has never been a sufficient argument to fuel the switch.

      Maybe what we need is not a system with better security and similar software suit. People will only change when we have a system with better security and SAME software suit (or at least one that has similar interface).

      Most users are lazy, and they don't want to learn how to use new interfaces.
      • You are correct sir. However there is one other way it would happen. A major security disaster that really eats nearly everyone's data on the Windows platform in such a way that it can never be recovered and backups won't work because the fundamental OS itself is completely at the mercy of the cracker(s) who staged the attack. At that point, people won't want to use Windows and would be forced to move. Of course, something like that could never happen now, could it? ;)
        • You are correct sir. However there is one other way it would happen. A major security disaster that really eats nearly everyone's data on the Windows platform in such a way that it can never be recovered and backups won't work because the fundamental OS itself is completely at the mercy of the cracker(s) who staged the attack. At that point, people won't want to use Windows and would be forced to move. Of course, something like that could never happen now, could it? ;)

          but then you still have the problem o

      • by mgblst (80109) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:16AM (#15659858) Homepage
        I wonder what goes through the mind of the average person, when thinking about buying there next computer. Do they buy PCs because that is what they always have had, and it is what everyone they know has? Or is it a certain love for applications that aren't on macs. (surely not) Is it the salesmen in the stores, pushing pcs?
        • by LordSnooty (853791) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:52AM (#15660026)
          I'd imagine it's the first option, in the main. Computers are expensive purchases and no-one will take a risk with something totally unknown, unless they know what they're doing. For the average person, I'd imagine that Macs & Linux don't even register. They might think they're different versions of Windows. They won't know what an OS is.

          Therefore, articles like this will only encourage switching in that section of users who understand the differences (and even then it might not succeed). Which, in my experience, is a tiny fraction of the general computer-using population.
          • Computers are expensive purchases and no-one will take a risk with something totally unknown, unless they know what they're doing.

            $499 isn't that exspensive compared to other products (car stereo, console gaming, tvs and so on) and chances are the average Joe just buys a computer based off what his kids, family members, or the store clerk tells him to.

            From my experience, people who buy macs as their first computer did it because of family members that already had macs or they use macs at their college or wo
            • $499 will buy you a Mac Mini. That's a computer minus those unnecessary peripherals: display, mouse, keyboard...
            • Most people have no damn clue why they are buying a computer. Ask anyone you're doing "free" tech support for, honestly and nicely, what they really want to do with the machine, so you can help them make an appropriate purchase.

              They won't know, and they'll buy a PC anyway.

              People buy all sorts of shit they don't need. It's fueled the home computer industry for years.

              They end up using them mostly for games, when a console machine would be better from the standpoint of reliability and ease of use.
        • by larkost (79011) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:58AM (#15660069)
          There are a few reasons that people continue to insist on Windows PCs:
          • It is what they have at work, and are thus "familiar" with
          • It is what everyone around them (such as the salesmen) says is "the standard"
          • Other systems are not "compatible"... but they don't know what that means (sometimes this means that they can get their friends games)
          • It is what the TV advertisement said they should get (people wander into Best Buy looking for Dells for this reason)

          It has never been about what is easier or better, or even cheaper really... Remember, the reason Windows won was that everyone already had service contracts with IBM, so DOS won (in large businesses with IBM mainframes). Then they already had contracts with Microsoft, so they won. There really is not much more too it.
        • by klubar (591384) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:02AM (#15660089) Homepage
          Existing software, compatibility with work environment, what your friends have, existing periphals and what you know. Until the Mac can overcome all of that it's a tough row to hoe.

          When buying a new computer most consumer want to re-use some of their software (games, financial programs (e.g., Quicken, MS Money, and maybe productivity software). Even if the Mac has an equivalent program, the added expense of re-buying stuff that you already own pushes up the mac cost. Also, many large companies have licenses that allow for home use of MS Office suite... on the Mac this will add another $100 to the cost.

          Consumers may also want to recycle their existing printer, scanner, camera and may be concerned (rightly or wrongly) that it willn't work with the Mac.

          Finally, there is a learning curve with the Mac...things work differently... maybe better, but different.
          • Market Pressure (Score:3, Interesting)

            by im_thatoneguy (819432)
            With every single PC vendor invested in the idea of destroying Apple, I don't see Apple being able to win a war of minds/marketing.

            The only person really invested in Apple succeeding is Apple. Dell, HP, Best Buy, Gateway, AMD and many many more have a huge investment in being able to sell computers and computer components. Unless you're on Apple's "in" list of mandated components, you don't want to see a closed architecture win. To some degree Intel moving to the apple platform will at least bring on gia
        • I wonder what goes through the mind of the average person, when thinking about buying there next computer. Do they buy PCs because that is what they always have had, and it is what everyone they know has? Or is it a certain love for applications that aren't on macs. (surely not) Is it the salesmen in the stores, pushing pcs?

          What do you mean "surely not"? Can I run City of Heroes/Villains or DDO natively on an Apple machine IN OS/X (NOT in Windows dual-booted, and NOT in VirtualPC/VMWare/Other Emulation Sof
          • What do you mean "surely not"? Can I run City of Heroes/Villains or DDO natively on an Apple machine IN OS/X (NOT in Windows dual-booted, and NOT in VirtualPC/VMWare/Other Emulation Software)?

            Oh I don't know, but I'm with most of the millions of others who would rather play World of Warcraft and Starcraft... (the most popular games in history) lo and behold they work just fine on my Mac, even with the same discs from the PC version! Imagine that!
          • >>What do you mean "surely not"? Can I run City of Heroes/Villains or DDO natively on an Apple machine IN OS/X (NOT in Windows dual-booted, and NOT in VirtualPC/VMWare/Other Emulation Software)?

            I suspect you're just creating a hypothetical situation in the hopes of finding a combination where you can say "See... the Mac can't do everything I need." But to answer your question, you can run most WinXP software full-speed alongside Mac OS X by using a virtualizer such as Parallels Desktop ($50 - www.para
        • I wonder what goes through the mind of the average person, when thinking about buying there next computer. Do they buy PCs because that is what they always have had, and it is what everyone they know has? Or is it a certain love for applications that aren't on macs. (surely not) Is it the salesmen in the stores, pushing pcs?

          Had you considered the possibility that we might actually prefer Windows, or even think it's better?

          I'm perfectly serious here. I'm not clueless or an idiot; I probably know more about
          • by eno2001 (527078) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:44AM (#15660417) Homepage Journal
            I don't think you've not subscribed to the Slashdot "group think" since there is no such thing to subscribe (or not) to. From the sound of it you are in a niche market (professional graphics work) and probably more technically able than most graphic designers (hence your choice of Windows). But you are apparently not really into technology for what it can do overall. You're only into what it can do for your specific task. Considering that most graphic designers don't know much about networking, scripting or coding, they tend to prefer the Mac. Again, it doesn't sound like you're quite down at that level (not to disparage graphic designers, but the best of the lot rarely have any technical ability at all. They simply have great eyes and know how to use their apps).

            For me... it's all about "free" in both senses of the word. I exclusively use Linux at home for everything. There are tons of applications that do everything I need. Since I don't need to go to print with my graphic work, GIMP works fine for me. As does GIMPrint for printing out family photos and the like. When it comes to the professional audio and video work I do, GIMP is leaps and bounds ahead of what the Windows platform provides and way cheaper than most decent Mac solutions. The amount of time spent getting mys systems configured (from source typically as I despise pre-packaged software) is not any greater than the amount of time I spent tweaking my Windows systems when I used that OS in the past. This is because for many of us, we like to get every ounce of performance out of our hardware and no matter what OS or platform we're on, we're going to investigate EVERY option all the way down to the code itself. Linux is not hard and the GUIs are much more polished and feature filled than anything that the Windows platform offers. But yes, you do have to spend some time learning the new approaches. I did and it was worth every second.

            It still an argument that's stupid and pointless though. It's not about "Good OS" vs. "Bad OS". It's about a "Good for Me OS" vs. a Bad for Me OS". For me, Windows is too limiting and far too expensive when you factor in how much you have to spend on extra apps to actually make it useful. For you the GUI options on Linux didn't suit you, likely due to the learning curve and possibly due to the time you tried it (Development is moving fast and both GNOME and KDE are far better than the Explorer interface in my opinion). Linux also failed you in that you probably aren't the kind of person who likes to work all the way down to the metal to get the most out of your machine (again, not an insult just a basic fact based on what you posted. I don't know, so I can't say 100% that this is true. You might have the .Net devel suite on your box and have downloaded the Windows source code via P2P to get things tuned right...). These failings don't really make either OS "bad" per se. But there are some simple facts to take into account:

            1. I used Windows all the way from DOS/Win3.1 to XP and I only got hit with one exploit through a stupid move (putting my XP laptop directly on a DSL link in an emergency with no firewall at all Pre-SP2). I found that putting my Windows boxes behind a decent firewall (typically linux based) stopped a whole host of problems. Even without EVER using any antivirus software (I simply avoided Internet Explorer and any version of Outlook).
            2. Nearly every Linux distro I've used has come with everything I've needed at a basic level and the only extras I ever install are typically because of my interests in the rarer fields of computing. Linux is certainly more complete when compared to Mac or Windows, but that's only if you're willing to put the time into learning it.

            So there you have it. I hope you can see the wisdom in this piece and take no offense as none was meant.
            • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:08PM (#15661404)

              Considering that most graphic designers don't know much about networking, scripting or coding, they tend to prefer the Mac.

              Does this statement make any sense? OS X has built in scripting interpreters for numerous languages, a functional command line, GUI piping/tranforms/scripts via Automator, free dev tools including gcc. On Windows the user has to install cygwin, which does not even interact with cygwin in any meaningful way. On OS X you can pipe things to and from Photoshop. OS X wins hands down if for no other reason than I can run perl scripts without a huge hassle.

              Aside from that, you make some good points. Different OS's are better for different tasks and different people. I use Linux, OS X, OpenBSD, NetBSD, and Windows XP regularly. The only thing about the previous poster that gives me pause is that based upon their comments, I don't think they've used OS X to try to do their tasks, or if they did they tried to replicate them exactly and do things just how they used to on Windows. It is hard to argue that for basic command line usage or for commercial graphics work is not king of the hill. The level of integration between gui apps and the cli, the ability to see previews of photoshop files and globally search text within them, scripting, system services, and both free and commercial application availability from both open source and commercial sources just makes those workflows so much easier.

              Now Windows certainly has its uses in a lot of areas and is hands down the best for niche application availability in most fields, but I'm suspicious of anyone arguing it for the above uses over OS X.

          • Had you considered the possibility that we might actually prefer Windows, or even think it's better?

            No. In all fairness, neither had I considered the possibility that you might be afflicted with rabies or fetal alcohol syndrome.

          • I won't bother to explain why since I'll just get labeled a troll anyway, but I also prefer Windows. It's what I'm used to and I am fast enough with the interface to be essentially mouse-less, so there's little reason for me to change until my needs change. I also play a lot of PC-only games.
      • by vertinox (846076) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:35AM (#15660346)
        Most users are lazy, and they don't want to learn how to use new interfaces.

        Well... We'd better not tell them about the Windows/Office Vista menu changes then.
      • Maybe what we need is not a system with better security and similar software suit. People will only change when we have a system with better security and SAME software suit (or at least one that has similar interface).

        I'll tell you the three reasons this "lazy" user has stuck to a Windows/AMD box (you acknowledge the first one):

        1. The software problem. Many programs I use are simply not available on anything but Windows. And their Mac equivalents either aren't as good or have significantly different interfa
  • However.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArcherB (796902) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @09:50AM (#15659706) Journal
    As more users make the switch, so will the malware coders.

    That said, it will be years before OSX overtakes Windows, if it ever does. Still, with OSX's mature tried-and-true UNIX core, I don't see as many problems as with MS's OS.
  • by neonprimetime (528653) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @09:50AM (#15659708)
    Microsoft has pledged that the latest version of its operating system, known as Vista, will be its most secure yet.

    • Win95 - There weren't even any doors or windows in the house
    • Win98 - They installed doors & windows, but left them all open
    • WinME - They accidentally broke the glass out of the windows
    • WinXP - They fixed & shut the windows, but the door was left open
    • WinVista - They shut the doors & windows, but still forgot to lock them
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I love my mac, but articles like this are somewhat misleading. Surely the reason the top 10 pieces of malware are Windows only isn't something as mundane as the 90% / 10% market saturation of windows vs. Mac devices. Even if the same malware app was on ever single mac connected to the net, it still wouldn't show up in this top 10.
    • by codegen (103601) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:08AM (#15659823) Journal
      urely the reason the top 10 pieces of malware are Windows only isn't something as mundane as the 90% / 10% market saturation of windows vs. Mac devices. Even if the same malware app was on ever single mac connected to the net, it still wouldn't show up in this top 10

      I love my mac too (all four of them). There is a bit more to it than that. A large part is the predominant number of windows. To effectively spread, a virus must have reasonable access to new hosts to infect. Also, the harder it is to infect, the more hosts the virus must have access to in order to spread. The concentration of macs is low enough that this significantly inhibits the ability of viruses to propogate.

      But there are also other issues. The article notes that email virus have become the most predominant malware. Certain email client programs are much more suceptable to these viruses that others. A large number of Windows users switching email clients would reduce the number of viruses significantly. I can tell everytime a new virus comes out, I suddenly see

      1. Email from people I know use windows machines. One prof in our department always seems to be unlucky enough to get hit with zero day attacks.
      2. Bounces from bad email addresses to my address when the virus chooses my email address from the address book of someone I know who gets infected to use as the sending address. At least most of the viruss scanners have become smart enough to stop sending infection notices for viruses known to spoof return addresses
  • by Decameron81 (628548) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @09:52AM (#15659720)
    "Security firm Sophos Security has released a report claiming that Macs will be more secure than windows for some time to come."


    Wow, they managed to predict the present.
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @09:52AM (#15659721) Homepage Journal
    ..people want to attack bigger targets more than smaller ones.

    I'm just going to keep all my important stuff on a TI-99/4a [wikipedia.org] from now on. Let's see the botnets get hold of that!
    • I'm just going to keep all my important stuff on a TI-99/4a from now on. Let's see the botnets get hold of that!

      They probably can, but only if you have Extended BASIC and the dual floppy drive add-on.
  • Why Bother? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by argo747 (935004)
    Why would I write a piece of malware that would only target a small segment of the market? If one wanted to further one's nefarious plans wouldn't it be smart to go after the biggest slice of the pie?
    • Re:Why Bother? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:04AM (#15659806)

      Why would I write a piece of malware that would only target a small segment of the market? If one wanted to further one's nefarious plans wouldn't it be smart to go after the biggest slice of the pie?

      That would depend upon your goal, now wouldn't it? For botnets, it is probably too difficult compared to the return to go after OS X boxes, but for other types of malware it makes some sense to add OS X as a secondary vector for a cross-platform worm. If, for example, you're gathering credit card numbers and accounts to online stores, you'll get a better return from OS X boxes than from Windows machines since you eliminate the chunk that is pirated and running in the third world, and basically limit yourself to the wealthy first worlders, and usually even the higher end of that group. You also, unfortunately, are targeting a lot of the security expert crowd, almost guaranteeing early detection of your worm.

      If, however, your goal is hactivism or prestige, well the first worm that targets OS X machines and actually propagates significantly in the wild will be big news and generate a lot of press. It is an ideal target, if you can pull it off.

      There is plenty of motivation to attack OS X boxes, but the difficulty of doing so, due to more reasonable security and architectural choices and because the skillset of malware authors is usually very Window's platform specific has played a big part in making sure that it has not yet been a concern.

  • Call home (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mwvdlee (775178) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @09:53AM (#15659728) Homepage
    The first and foremost thing MS should do to make Windows more secure is to disable the call home when installing WinXP. From the moment it logs in, it is prone to attack and the user is left defenseless upto the moment installation is completed and a zillion trojans have had ample time to install. Atleast make it so the call home is performed AFTER I had the chance to install a virusscanner and firewall.
  • ...Again? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GundamFan (848341) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @09:53AM (#15659729)
    Well sure... follow the money... There is no point in compromising a Mac but if you hack Windows you have a marketable product. After the pigs sprout wings and Macs take over the 95% market share lets see how many proffesonal hackers turn there attention away from Microsoft's products. Saying OSX is more robust than Windows XP is irelivant... where there is a will there is a way.
    • Re:...Again? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Shadowlore (10860) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @12:50PM (#15660879) Journal
      where there is a will there is a way.

      The majority of security related incidents are not due to the infamous and dreaded "determined cracker". They are due to "script kiddies" - people who don't have the skills required. Security is not an absolute, it is a relative scale. Most of the people dropping shots on MS OSes are those who ony do it because it is easy. They then go brag to their equally skill-free friends about their supposed 'leetness.

      Thus the intent of security is to raise the bar, the barrier to entry if you will, on what it takes to "get in". If an OS makes it more difficult to break in, more tedious to do it, then you will decrease your risk by driving off the lesser "skilled", regardless of the size of the target.

      Consider transporting large amounts of cash and other valuables. Armored cars can be "cracked" by sufficiently determined theives. Yet we don't see banks transporting their cash by unescorted, unarmored car. Again, it is a matter of raising the bar. Do you lock your car or house? Why? A sufficiently determined thief will easily bypass your lock. But just as with OS level security, bank security, etc. you weed out the "petty" or "lesser" thieves/crackers. This reduces your risk and reduces your response work.

      So IF OSX raises the bar, then it is a good thing regardless of the size of the target on it's back. Anything short of recognizing this is short sighted and missing the picture.

      So GundamFan, do tell: Do you lock your vehicle? Do you lock the doors of your house? Do you store your money in a bank? Do you hide your valuale or use a safe? Why bother, since "where there is a will, there is a way"?
  • by Speare (84249) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @09:53AM (#15659730) Homepage Journal

    Maybe the OS-dependent malware is on Windows but not MacOSX, but there are still some serious computer-delivered attacks that don't depend on the operating system. Social exploits like phishing and pay-forward scams still attack the gullible on any platform. Cross-site scripting exploits can still put web services such as PayPal and Amazon at risk. This has little to do with the platform, and I think many MacOSX fans are falsely smug over the whole thing.

    • True... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:42AM (#15659972)
      Social exploits like phishing and pay-forward scams still attack the gullible on any platform. Cross-site scripting exploits can still put web services such as PayPal and Amazon at risk. This has little to do with the platform, and I think many MacOSX fans are falsely smug over the whole thing.

      ...social exploits and cross site exploits don't depend on a your desktop OS being badly designed but I bet there still is a fair number of Windows users who envy the Mac zealots for not having to waste their time pruning Norton/Panda/Macaffee/etc... anti-malware suites with monotonous regularity never mind the endless nag screens these anti-malware suites throw at you. The very fact that Macs will remain an OS/Hardware package deal with a limited userbase for the forseeable future will limit the OS.X malware problem. Even so I'd still bet on a OS.X or Linux desktop OS'es as having fewer problems (not to be misread as 'no problems') with malware even if the same effort went into producing malware for those two OS'es as goes into the manufacture of Windows malware. This may of course change with Windows Vista but that remains to be seen.
  • by Spykk (823586) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @09:53AM (#15659738)
    If you really want to follow the security through lack of marketshare model then you should install os/2 or dos.
  • Macs and... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by snwod (721177) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @09:53AM (#15659739)
    Linux, right? Seriously, though, this is going to start the usual flamewar, with both sides refusing to budge on the views about their systems. Nothing new. I run Windows (for games...and Linux for most everything else...and I do like Macs, but haven't been able to get one recently), and haven't had a virus or malware problem in years. I run a good firewall/anti-virus combo along with using Ad-aware and the rest. I don't click on banner adds and I don't install strange pop-up programs. Pretty simple really.
    • Re:Macs and... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jizziknight (976750)
      I've run windows for years WITHOUT any anti-virus, only Ad-Aware (and recently Windows Defender for the realtime aspect) and haven't had a virus or malware problem. I think these sorts of things have a lot more to do with user stupidity than anything. "Hay, guys I got an email from someone I've never heard of with a screensaver attached!" *click* "Oh, shi..."
  • I heard those are immune to just about ALL malware out there, and will remain so for eons. And the technology has been tested and troubleshot for centuries, so it's basically bulletproof.
  • Apple fud cake (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Xiph (723935) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @09:54AM (#15659743)
    This is just another of those articles that claims Apple is safer, because it's less of a target.
    It reads the new updated statistics about the problems of ms windows, and clichés it's way to declaring apple fairly safe.
    this article does admit apple has security flaws, but does not extend it beyond that.

    In short, the article doesn't do much to bring perspective, or depth to an already longwinded debate.
    In my opinion, changing to apple because it's less of a target is comparable security through obscurity.

    Real security comes through proper training of administrators and users. Real security does not come with the operating system
    • Re:Apple fud cake (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dusanv (256645)
      The article is short on technical facts, that's true. But there is more to Mac security than obscurity. I keep reading comments on this story and it's amazing how clueless most Windows users are about Mac OS and UNIX in general. Mac OS *is* more secure despite being a smaller target. Sony's rootkit wouldn't work on OS X because it doesn't run anything executable off CDs/DVDs after it mounts them (I was affected by that on Windows). Mail.app doesn't run executable code under any circumstances - Outlook type
    • JAB FUD (Score:4, Insightful)

      by NixLuver (693391) <stwhite@kcher[ ]c.com ['eti' in gap]> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @12:51PM (#15660894) Homepage Journal
      You're not the only one by a long shot, but I have to point out the inherent logical absurdity of "Macs are going to be 'Just As Bad' when X percent of the people adopt them!". This entire worldview assumes that all system design decisions are security/malware neutral; this seems obviously absurd to me, no matter what system you apply it to. I mean, someone can certainly attempt to make a case explaining how the security model of OSX is inferior to Windows', or the other way 'round (which I think more likely), but to jump on the whole JAB bandwagon is abandoning reason in favor of politics.

      I agree with the first part of your final line - "Real security comes through proper training of administrators and users." But the operating system is an integral part of that. Ever used any trusted platform? (a real one, like trusted solaris or hpux) There's some os-down security enforcement!

      All security decisions are a compromise between usability and security. All of them. I can make my windows boxen 99.999% secure by unplugging them from the network and controlling all physical access. But in the real world, a useful system is attached to a network, and the OS is a vital part of that security arrangement.

      Anyone who truly believes that *nix isn't attacked constantly, or for that matter, by very high-level attackers, is too limited in experience and not in a position to have reality impinge upon his or her preconceptions. Watch the firewalls protecting any *nix network - say at a bank - and then tell me that there just aren't that many attacks on *nix. Or - try this... run up your linux box, rename your root user to something else, and create an unprivileged user named root. Then log in to any IRC server that will let you, join #linux, and watch your firewall go stupid as script kiddies and various other bored hackers try and 'pwn' your system. The reason there aren't many worms for *nix at all is mostly because the security model makes it extremely difficult to build a useful worm/virus, and it's likely to stay that way.
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @09:55AM (#15659749) Homepage Journal
    The user is the most infectious part of any system.

    If a user has permissions to run any program he wants then malware will remain.
    In a corporate environment, the users' rights should be such that unknown applications cannot run.

    Home users don't have the same protections and must rely on virus checkers and spyware scanning to tell them that "this screensaver your mum sent you is infact a trojan which will send itself out to all your friends".

    Windows, Linux, Mac, BSD are all susceptible to users' bad decisions.

    (and the critical mass of malicious folks exist in Windows, but that could change quite quickly)
  • by tont0r (868535) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @09:55AM (#15659750)
    When firefox came out, there werent any problems with it at all. Pops wouldnt happen as often. No 'ZOMG ACTIVEX WILL EAT YOUR FACE' or anything like that. But mostly because 95% of all people were using IE and firefox was about 2%. Now that firefox is more popular, people have found ways around it. Firefox is still great and they do a great job at patching it up (much better than IE). But the Macs are in the same boat. Its a small market right now, but as they get more popular, there will be viruses and exploits for it just like windows. The only argument is will they fix it faster than microsoft does?
  • I find it funny that apple wants to run windows alongside. They would be better off pushing wine to avoid all the local issues that Windows has.
    • Except for the fact that WINE is a serious pain in the ass, doesn't support all the DirectX goodies it should, has problem with mouse control, has issues with some network features, has serious issues with sound, accelerated video and a bunch of other things that make most people say fuck it, and reboot to Windows...
  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @09:56AM (#15659762) Homepage
    The script kiddie tools are available on Windows only.
  • by CPIMatt (206195) * on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:00AM (#15659769)
    The article doesn't say that Macs are more secure than Windows. It only says that they are less targeted by malware. Two different things. Bad, Slashdot, Bad!

    *Troll*

    -Matt
  • Misleading metrics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kope (11702) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:02AM (#15659788)
    Saying that the most common malware only effects Windows, therefore Macs are more secure is simply bad reasoning.

    What matters is rate of contact and rate of infection after contact.

    A well configured Windows machine, with a good up-to-date virus/spyware scanner and firewall which prevents unauthorized registry changes is pretty hard to actually infect.

    I'm sure that "out of the box" Macs are better. But it's not "out of the box" that I care about. My concern is level of security during actual operation.

    I have no problem believing that Macs are more resistant to malware, but this measure doesn't show that to necessarily be the case.
    • Gah -- bad sentance structure makes me sound like an idiot:

      Yes I know what firewalls do.

      When I wrote "with a good up-to-date virus/spyware scanner and firewall which prevents unauthorized registry changes" the "which" is refering to the virus/spyware scanning not the firewall.

      Not that this'll actually teach me to poof-read.
    • by ZachPruckowski (918562) <zachary.pruckowski@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:11AM (#15660146)
      For 75 percent of the world, "out-of-the-box" == "during actual operation". It's those people who get infected by malware. Don't expect users to do any extra work beyond going straight to Office or IE or their email app. Thus, "out-of-the-box" is a pretty important state.

      That said, this only addresses number of viruses, not level of security, making this a dumb study. Yes, I own a Mac, and will be buying another.
  • by MrSquirrel (976630) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:02AM (#15659789)
    Windows is more used than OS X (90% marketshare) and Microsoft is more hated than Apple -- of course Windows is going to be "more vulnerable"... because more people are going to target it! (Analogies: start your engines!) That's like saying "You're more likely to get shot in Chicago than SmalltownUSA" Well duh, because there are more people and more guns in Chicago than SmalltownUSA (Apple is SmalltownUSA if you couldn't figure that out). Apple's operating system has its flaws, Windows has its flaw, Linux has flaws -- security flaws will probably always exist (until the robots write our code for us... IN OUR OWN BLOOD) and as long as they are around, people will always try to exploit them. It's not wonder the top 10 malware pieces are for Windows considering Windows' HUGE marketshare (Analogy remix: wouldn't it be smart to pick out a particular bank to rob if it has 90% of the world's money?).
  • obscure != secure (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spyrochaete (707033) <spyrochaete.hyppy@zapto@org> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:04AM (#15659801) Homepage Journal
    They said the same thing about Firefox but that's starting to change. Mozilla is fixing holes all the time and I'm starting to see ads that get through Adblock (stupid Mediaplex). This is just an article about security through obscurity - the best kind of security according to too many Apple fans I've talked to.

    Faith in obscurity means you'll be totally unprepared when disaster strikes.
  • by Errtu76 (776778)
    This is the first time i see a story accurately tagged 'duh'
  • by Tim C (15259) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:08AM (#15659826)
    The summary here says:
    The report listed the 10 most common kinds of malware, and noted that they can only infect Windows systems.

    However, the BBC article linked to says:
    Sophos security said that the 10 most commonly found pieces of malicious software all targeted Windows machines.

    In contrast, it said, none of the "malware" were capable of infecting the Mac OS X operating system.


    Kinds of malware means categories - eg trojans, viruses, etc. That's absolutely not what the BBC article says.
  • Isn't Sober-Z just another email trojan - it seems to require the user double clicking on the attachment to run. No system is safe against trojans.
  • You can't hack an OS X system in 30 minutes? [slashdot.org] Granted, they were literally asking for it, but the point remains that it was hacked in a very short period of time, and you kind of have to question the security stuff there.

    Personally, I'd say that it would make a lot more sense just to switch to Linux – not only does it work with your existing PC hardware, but it's also usually free or inexpensively-priced. And despite what a lot of people have claimed, it's really not very hard to install or use
  • by alcmaeon (684971) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:13AM (#15659843)
    What does it all mean? Sort this out for me, Slashdot.
  • by celotil (972236) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:17AM (#15659860) Homepage

    They're also easy to perceive as being "user friendly", stylish (if aesthetics matter to you), very versatile, and over-all are just more "welcoming" to those people who don't know a lot about computing in general and easily anthropomorph their PC's into something that "hates them" every time a program suffers from buggy construction.

    My parents and an Aunt just bought themselves new computers - Dad got a 20" iMac, Mum got a 17" MacBook Pro (not a single problem with heat or "moo" yet), and Aunt picked a 13" MacBook (she hasn't said anything about problems yet either) - based on my recommendations and their experiences with Windows installs degrading overtime - seriously, barely touched PCs and Windows had to be re-installed at least once every six months, even with anti-spyware/virus and firewall software and hardware.

    They bought them with a three-user licence of Windows XP as well - for those few programs that they use that aren't on Mac OS X - and are now quite happy doing a lot more on their computers, and watching a lot less television, than they were before.

    Most of the time they're booted up into Mac OS X. Sometimes my Aunt uses Windows for when she's working on Family Tree's, and once Mum installed Mac:Office she stopped using MSN on Windows so it's already been left alone after two days. Dad doesn't know why he's got Windows, it just seemed like a good idea to him, and I'm getting him off of it slowly because seriously, he doesn't use his computer for anything that he can't do in Mac OS X; when he does need Windows though, it'll be there on another partition waiting to be used.

    Macs are the best computer for the general consumer to buy today, whether it be a Mini, an iMac, or a MacBook (Pro or "Regular"), simply because the core OS that comes on them provides a good place for a "noob" to learn about the web, email, writing letters, making movies, playing with photography, simple programming, etc... and because of Mac OS X's overall design and default configuration (very important because no "noob" is going to first secure their PC when they unpack it) it is a secure place to play.

    With the change to Intel CPU's they become even more useful across the broad spectrum of people using computers because suddenly that program that you had to use for work and couldn't change for something else cheaper or OSS can now be run on Windows... natively on a Mac; allowing you to "cool off" from Windows once in a while by rebooting and firing up iPhoto or iMovie, potter around with that masterpiece you're gonna release one day to rival The Big Lebowski, and then reboot and get back to work.

    There was virtualisation software before but now Parallels and the Intel CPU switch has made Windows in Mac OS X even more practical, and now Windows can be run while enjoying some of that OS X security. You're firewalling Windows XP with Mac OS X! You, the noob, has his own UNIX firewall! Now how cool is that?

    If you've got the cash and a looking for a good all-round computer, get a Mac. If you don't have the cash, save up and then buy a Mac. If you're a gamer... get whatever the hell you want because you're likely to have already set you're mind on something and anything else is just "bogus", and if you're a Linux/BSD geek like me, well... one day you may want a Mac and run Gentoo or something else on it, but I'm personally enjoying this use I have of my Dad's older iMac G5 and am seriously considering turning my Gentoo Desktop PC into a server and buying a MacBook Pro like Mum's for my main machine. :)

  • by rbarreira (836272) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:18AM (#15659867) Homepage
    In other news, a team of scientists has collected a list of the 10 most common human illnesses, and has concluded that it's much safer to be an ant since they're invulnerable to them.
  • by Techguy666 (759128) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:56AM (#15660052)
    We use Sophos at our workplace. I also use other antivirus and antispyware - often to clean up the crap that Sophos doesn't find. Speaking as someone who's familiar with Sophos, I think it's curious that Sophos is telling home users to consider buying Macs. Go to Sophos' website (www.sophos.com) and try to find a home user product... They don't seem to promote any.

    If I were a conspiracy theorist, I would think this is a warning shot aimed at Microsoft because of MS' sudden focus on security, to the detriment of companies such as Sophos; send Microsoft's small clientle to the enemy - it's no skin off of Sophos' corporate nose. As a PR exercise, Sophos otherwise just released a piece of fluff. They're talking to an audience that they don't serve or interact with.
  • by WombatControl (74685) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:11AM (#15660149)

    I've come to the conclusion that the biggest reason for why the Mac is a more secure platform isn't because of technology, but because the Mac userbase tends to be a lot more savvy than the Windows userbase.

    I'd hazard a guess that the vast majority of Windows malware comes not from the inherent insecurity of the Windows platform but from users doing dumb things. Someone who installs some stupid little weather applet and gets infected with spyware got infected not because of a flaw in the system, but because they didn't bother to determine whether or not the source of their software was credible or not. Even if they got a prompt like Vista and OS X present they'll still authorize the program. There's no patch that can be applied to a system to prevent stupid users from mucking it up.

    John Gruber wrote a really astute article on why Macs don't have the level of malware that one would think they would [daringfireball.net]. If Apple has roughlt 5% marketshare, why isn't 5% of the total malware population targeting Macs? I think he's right when he notes:

    We all benefit from the fact that the Mac community has zero tolerance for vulnerabilities. Not just zero tolerance for security exploits, but zero tolerance for vulnerabilities. In fact, there is zero tolerance in the Mac community for crapware of any kind.

    If some "freeware" software for the Mac surreptitiously installed some sort of adware/spyware/crapware, there'd be reports all over the Mac web within days. Uninstallation instructions would be posted (and thus made available to all via Google), and the developer who shipped the app would be excoriated.

    Zero tolerance, on the part of the user community, is the only policy that can work.

    It's similar to the "broken windows" theory of urban decay, which holds that if a single window is left unrepaired in a building, in fairly short order, the remaining windows in the building will be broken. Fixing windows as soon as they are broken sends a message: that vandalism will not be tolerated. But not fixing windows also sends a message: that vandalism is acceptable. Worse, once a problem such as vandalism starts, if left unchecked, it flourishes.

    Macs are more secure because Mac users have a much tougher stance towards crapware. Mac users tend to be much more technically proficient than the average. If that "zero-tolerance" policy changes, I'm not so sure we'll see an increase in the amount of malware targeting Macs.

    OS X does a great job of providing technical barriers against malware, but nothing can prevent malware that uses social engineering to do its work. Mac users are safer because they choose to be - but if you get a group of users who have no awareness of security and will blindly execute anything they come across, even if the system specifically tells them not to, that could change very quickly.

  • by darkuni (986212) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:34AM (#15660336)
    I'm echoing a couple of other folks here, but I wanted to chime in myself with a little story to illustrate. If you really care about safety, get an education. A good A/V program and firewall are a good start - but to believe for one second that any amount of software can protect you is just being naive. The best A/V and anti-spyware cannot DO everything and as a bonus, they are only as good as the person that updates them (or the person responsible for the update). What's worse, is thanks to the media, most of these tools incorrectly identify "thousands of infections" (fear only works through numbers - if a product finds ONE legitimate malware, it CAN'T be as good as one that finds THOUSANDS, RIGHT????) by identifying cookies for Pete's sake. The fact remains that a little education, and a bit of lifestyle change goes a LONG way. Drop IE (I'm an Opera user - yes, I know I know - let the Firefox arrows fly). Drop the Outlook evilness (again, I'll buck the trend - I use The Bat! and I love it). If you don't want the hole in the roof to get bigger, don't leave the little hole in disrepair, right? Fact of the matter is, I've managed to be malware and virus free for going on 10 years now by simple education. I don't even use a firewall or realtime A/V OR spyware tools. I do a 'system level' A/V test on boot up, keep my A/V defs up to date - and I let Windows Firewall run. A couple of times a year, I'll get the "flavor of the month" anti-malware package, spyware package and run it just to ensure I'm clean. Then I promptly uninstall it. I've educated my wife and children about internet security. On their boxes, the A/V runs resident. My wife uses Internet Explorer because of some very poorly written sites she must visit. I got my kid on Opera. Zero infections. In fact, education works so well - I have a story to tell about it. A family friend and her kid came over to visit - all their stuff was in storage (getting ready to move) and they needed some computer time on the 'net to do some homework, check email, etc. No problem - terminals all over the house - pick one and go. The kid got on my wife's computer. Within FIVE MINUTES, the computer was infected. To this day, I don't know what she did - but it was LOADED with crap. The other terminals were off aside from mine - and I saw the infection try to hit my box, disabled sharing to my wife's computer, and ran in to stop what was going on. Five minutes, folks. That's all it took a squeaky clean system to become unbelievably infected. I can only imagine what their own computers look like. Took me HOURS to get it cleaned off (as I said - software can only do so much - if you don't get EVERYTHING before the next reboot, it all comes back - enjoy!). I'm sure everyone has a story like this. "I had a family member that was infected DAILY with tons of crap, changed them to Opera|Firefox|whatever and The Bat|Thunderbird|whatever and I've never had another call from them". You just can't argue with success stories like that. Sure, if you changed them to OSX or Redhat, you might have the same success story. But in this case, they didn't lose anything they used everyday (except that crappy browser and horrible email client), they learned a valuable lesson - and in many cases, come back to tell you how much BETTER the browser/client is than the horrible crap they were using (Opera's screen zooming alone makes it completely indispensible for people at super high resolutions - I'm at 180% as I write this). Until people understand the nature of evil, they cannot hope to combat it. You can install multiple A/V tools, spyware killers, the whole lot (and incorrectly feel safe about it - making you even MORE susceptible to attack) or you can get a little education, make a couple of small changes and really protect yourself. As Smokey the Bear says|said: "Only YOU ..."
  • by giorgosts (920092) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @12:08PM (#15660585)
    If you lock down your system, don't install software from untrusted sources and don't browse the web with admin rights, windows is a good compromise between security and usability. On the other hand, if you always run as admin, install every free (or non-free) crapware and use the same machine for logging in your bank account, I don't see how a change in a technicality (the OS) is going to help you from being exploited.
  • by cwgmpls (853876) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:10PM (#15661003) Journal
    Even if OS X is only 5% of all PCs in the world, surely there are a good number of hackers out there who would love to release an OS X virus into the wild, just to prove it can be done. Besides, the total number of OS X installs today is certainly greater than the total number of Windows installs that existed at the time the first Windows virus was released.

    Most hackers don't need a huge number of installs to stroke their ego. The opportunity to prove that OS X is just as vulnerable as Windows should be more than enough to motivate someone to release an OS X virus into the wild. Yet no one has done it.

    There must be more at work here than OS X's small market share. OS X must be inherently more secure than Windows to not have a virus in the wild six years after its release. Certainly there are enough hackers out there who would love to show their prowess by writing an OS X virus, even for the relatively small number of OS X installs that exist; but nobody has been able to do it yet.

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