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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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  • 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.
  • ...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.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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?
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Re:However.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by God'sDuck (837829) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:02AM (#15659780)
    If someone is stupid enough to click on anything he receive from IM and has the right to install programs, he is screwed whatever its OS.
    except, on a Mac, before it does anything vicious you have to give your login password to the sudo command window. Vista will (fina-freaking-lly) have this, but, if it doesn't improve dramatically from the beta, those windows will have popped up so often that people will just click through. On my Mac, when that window pops up, I *notice* -- since it's quite rare. so the true idiots will still get smacked...but the general public will have to do quite a bit more to actively screw their system.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Re:Macs and... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jizziknight (976750) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:04AM (#15659802)
    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..."
  • 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.

  • 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 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.
  • by eno2001 (527078) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:12AM (#15659841) Homepage Journal
    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? ;)
  • 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?
  • Re:However.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mdwh2 (535323) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:20AM (#15659873) Journal
    except, on a Mac, before it does anything vicious you have to give your login password to the sudo command window.

    And how will that help? If a user is willing to click to run untrusted programs, he is willing to type a password to do so. This will only help in cases where a user does not have the priviledge to install programs (which the OP explicitly discounted by saying "and has the right to install programs").
  • by dominikbal (986947) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:24AM (#15659890)
    The same was said millions of times about Firefox. Now, millions of people switched to Firefox, and Mozilla Dev Team release critical security updates more often than Microsoft for IE. Not because the MS is lazy to patch their browser, but because FF is even more buggy and door-open. We just "didn't know" it before, because only one dozen of people around the world used it back in 2004. Oh, and there is no ActiveX support. Call it a Microsoft peace of shiat, which you never want to use, BUT think if this is really a way. Removing features to be "secure" ? That is something like "Do not drive fast, and there will be no car disasters". Yes, we buy all those Benzes to drive 20MPH. Same goes for any Mac. People just don't know about it yet.
  • Re:However.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ArbitraryConstant (763964) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:33AM (#15659923) Homepage
    Privilege escalation attacks are pretty common (on all UNIXes, not just MacOS), it isn't safe to assume malicious code needs you to type your password.
  • 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 scoser (780371) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:45AM (#15659995) Journal

    A nice "enter your root password to do this" prompt will not prevent stupid people from running malware on a Mac, especially if the malware says "enter your system password to install in secure mode" or something similar. Just because a system is inherently more secure does not mean stupid people can't screw it up.

    With all the press about "Macs don't get viruses", your average user is likely to get a false sense of security when running things and might be more likely to try and run everything they run across, since it can't possibly do anything bad since they have a Mac.

  • 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.
  • Analogy remix: wouldn't it be smart to pick out a particular bank to rob if it has 90% of the world's money?).

    So that is why so many people tried to rob Fort Knox.

  • 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.
  • Re:However.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by neoform (551705) <djneoform@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:59AM (#15660075) Homepage
    MyDoom.A was also far easier to remove than something that's embedded it'self into the system, making it unremovable, then requiring a complete reinstall of the system..
  • 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.
  • Re:Apple fud cake (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dusanv (256645) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:10AM (#15660138)
    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 viruses out the door! There are no true administrator accounts, not in the Windows sense of the word. The admin accounts on OS X aren't really admin at all. They just can 'sudo' into admin account and to do that, user is prompted to enter their password. Did you try running anything on XP with a "limited" account? Half of the software doesn't work including some stuff from Microsoft themselves. Mac OS ships with a single port open to the outside world (mDNSResponder). Compare that to Windows.

    Real security starts with the OS vendor, not with users. MS has delegated the work of securing their OS to the end users (and it's an impossible to task to boot). I refuse to spend my time doing their work them...
  • 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 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 michrech (468134) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:12AM (#15660150)
    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 Software)?

    Yes, these are games however there are MANY other people out there with OTHER requirements for which there simply isn't another option as far as the OS goes.

    If things have continued in the computer retail space (from the time I was involved in it), the salesmen push whatever they have the most 'training' on. When I worked for Best Buy in the late '90's, that training was limited, and I don't recall it ever involving anything Apple related. Those machines sat on the shelf and sold only when a customer came in that already knew they wanted said hardware. I have a feeling that was one of the reasons the space was eventually re-purposed.
  • Re:However.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gutnor (872759) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:16AM (#15660181)
    The point of the malware like trojan is that they come with a legitimate application.

    People are not installing "Malware.exe" they are installing "SuperSmiley.exe", "NudeBritneySpearScreensaver" or "WindowsKernel_1337_Accelerator.exe" They will do whatever it takes to install them, including entering the appropriate credentials.

    The real security problem is social.
    Even if a system becomes very safe ( call back Apple every time you need to install a program. Store your data on Apple site only, and no execution of any kind of not-approve tech including scripts ) There will still be people going on fishing websites and people giving their pin number to HornyHotChick on IM.

    It takes litteraly years to teach simple concept to people. (condom, car belts, ...) The problem is that IT it too complex ... and if you could summarize it in 1 sentence, it would still take years of education to be accepted.

    Not saying that it is not a good thing to move to OSX: OSX is much harder to 'break' and has a much lower user base, so less incentive, so you should be safe even if you don't know why and are pissed that only your friends have the funky smileys.

  • by Haeleth (414428) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:18AM (#15660202) Journal
    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 computers than most people here. I've used Macs and various Linices extensively, and I consider myself skilled with both. But I still use Windows for my primary computer, because I just happen to find it a pleasanter environment. I can get stuff done faster in Windows. It does what I want, the way I want to do it. That's why.

    Why not use Linux? Because Linux GUIs have always struck me as clunky and fragile, and there's no useful Linux software that I can't run either in Cygwin or remotely over an ssh tunnel to a Debian system. Meanwhile, much of the software I do need -- notably professional graphics applications -- is not available for Linux at all. (GIMP and Inkscape are fine for web design, but they don't even try to do print.)

    Why not use a Mac? Primarily because I don't see any point in paying extra for a proprietary and incompatible system that doesn't offer me anything significant over a PC. Also, the Mac interface is an abomination. A hodgepodge of totally different (but equally hideous) skins, blurry fonts, and whizz-bang effects that do nothing but slow down any attempt at serious work. And the dock? Seriously, what were they smoking? I've seen hardened Apple fanatics break down in tears because they can't figure out how the dock is supposed to work. Apple stopped doing intuitive when they retired OS 9. I'm surprised more people haven't noticed yet.

    And what about security? I'm not worried. A hardware firewall, coupled with basic precautions like not using IE, not opening random email attachments, and not browsing Russian porn/warez sites, keeps me perfectly secure. I haven't been hit by a single virus, worm, or piece of spyware in my entire life, and I see no reason to suppose that's about to change.

    So that's why my next computer will be another Windows PC. Sorry if my failure to subscribe to Slashdot groupthink offends you.
  • Re:Why Bother? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:24AM (#15660252)

    If you say "a lot of security people use macs" and are not implying that Mac users are generally more secure because of it, then the statement might as well say "a lot of security people use Windows PCs." Because, a lot of "security people" use windows. I would wager a guess there are significantly MORE "security people" that use Windows than OSX.

    When a worm is propagating, every propagation exposes it to potential detection. If malware hits my box and my IDS notices an anomalous outgoing communication that does not match my normal pattern, I'm going to look into it and find out what happened. Suddenly the malware is exposed to the security community.

    The vast majority of the time, a worm hits a non-expert's machine and is not detected. For simplicity's sake, lets say there are 100,000 users in some network. 80,000 are using Windows. 4,000 are using OS X. 16,000 are using other OS's. Say there are 500 security experts in this group. 250 are using macs, 150 are using alternative OS's and 100 are using Windows (based upon the attendees of security conferences this is being overly generous to Windows by a lot).

    You write a Windows worm. Every propagation it has a 1 in 800 chance of being detected. You'll probably net 400 machines for your botnet before anyone is even investigating and a lot more before anyone gets around to writing a signature.

    Suppose you write a OS X only virus. Every propagation has a 1 in 16 chance of being detected. You'll probably net about 8 machines before someone is investigating. The investigation will likely go faster as there is a lot more interest in a mac worm than a Windows worm, due to the novelty. The propagation will likely be slower due to the scarcity of targets (only 1 in 25 targets is viable).

    Suppose you write a cross-platform Mac/Windows worm. Every propagation has a 1 in 240 chance of being detected. You'll probably net a 120 before the investigation starts.

    Because the percentage of security people who use OS X is so much greater than the percentage that use Windows, an OS X worm faces a much harder "market" for propagation and is likely to be detected while many fewer hosts have been compromised. This has been demonstrated in the real world as well, with the case of the dropper trojan on a mac forum. Do you understand now?

  • 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 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.
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:37AM (#15660361)

    But personally, I have to say I find Linux more convenient, because you get a complete, ready-to-go desktop with all your applications and settings nicely pre-configured, right out of the box

    We were actually trying to figure this out at work. We get our choice of machines and OS's. The estimate right now is it takes the average Linux install and config about 4 business days to get everything they need installed and configured and working with all our resources. It takes the average Windows user 3 days (but these are mostly managerial types). It takes the average OS X user about 3 days as well, so it is winning for engineers, but not by much. For upgrades, however, it wins hands down. There is nothing quite as easy in the Linux world (that I've seen) as the install as an upgrade option. You boot the old machine while holding down a key, plug a firewire cable to the new machine, and click a button. It maxes out the hard drive write speed and you don't even have to tell it what files/configurations/etc. to copy. As a Linux distro maintainer I implore you, steal this feature.

    But if I'm not mistaken, by your own argument that's too many choices

    Touche. I don't really count Windows as a choice, as it is more of a default. My only thought is that we all have to help others make the right choice (yeah pigs flying applies here too). You make a good point.

  • 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 vertinox (846076) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:46AM (#15660431)
    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 work. But I've seen plenty of switchers of people who were fed up with spyware and other issues.
  • 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 tomcres (925786) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @12:12PM (#15660608)
    It's not about security. It's not because of some evil conspiracy on the part of retailers to sell PCs instead of Macs.

    A) availability: Most retailers don't carry Macs. Especially now that Apple has its own retail stores. Apple is now a competitor. And Apple has very strict limits on what prices 3rd party vendors can sell their computers for. That's why you never see a (new) Mac sold anywhere for more $5 less than Apple's own price.

    B) price: You pay more for the Apple name. Yes, you also pay more because the cost of the PC is partially subsidized by promotional software, some of which may or may not be useful. In any event, for $500, which would you want? A Mac mini that doesn't even come with a DVD burner, keyboard, mouse, or monitor? Or would you rather have an Athlon64-based system with a DVD burner, keyboard, mouse, and everything you need and probably even a 15"-17" LCD monitor thrown in?

    C) compatibility: You can't even buy a printer that doesn't work with Windows. It's not hard to find one that doesn't work with Mac. It's nice to know that whatever you buy will just work. Printers are a big problem here in that some printer drivers only work with certain point releases of Mac OS X. Others work, but are 10 times slower than on Windows (I offer up my Brother MFC-3820CN as proof of this). And multifunctions/all-in-ones may not have all functionality available on Mac.

    D) upgradeability: Unless you're talking about a PowerMac G5, Macs have no internal expandability. What are you supposed to do if your computing needs change? Pay Apple to do the upgrade for you? You can't even install memory in a Mac mini without special expertise! Forget about upgrading an optical drive or a hard drive. How about upgrading the onboard video to something more current? Not even a remote possibility in a Mac because there are no expansion slots!

    E) people like freedom: With a PC, you have your choice of manufacturer, a greater choice of options (both BTO and aftermarket), and the knowledge that you probably know someone who is good with PCs. And if you don't, any computer place (other than the Apple Store, naturally) can service it for you.

    Consumers aren't dumb. Don't let your anti-Microsoft bias get in the way of seeing that PCs have very real practical advantages over Macs. I gather a lot of people will have the experience (as my wife and I did) of buying into the Mac hype only to go back to PCs and never look back. Unless you specifically need a Mac, I'd say in almost all cases, you're better off with a PC. Think about all the copycat iMacs that were around a few years ago.. the eOne, the Gateway Profile... People don't spend $500+ lightly. They want the piece of mind of knowing that their purchase is going to be upgradeable (in other words, not obsolete in two years) and that they are not going to be limited in buying peripherals in the future (Joe User doesn't want to have to read box labels to see which versions of Mac OS X his new all-in-one printer is compatible with).

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @12:36PM (#15660777)

    Now every frickin time I want to run some executable I have to click "Yeah, ok, fine, do it".

    Providing a dialogue that is a confirmation, not a choice is a usability and security flaw. OS X does not do this. What is does is when you run a program for the first time, it tells you it is a program and then asks if you want to run that program or not run that program. You are not given the option of clicking "ok" like on Windows, which with a ridiculous number of said, useless dialogues trains everyone to reflexively click "ok."

    Do you think I read the stupid dialogs?

    You have no choice in this case. You have read the button names to know what you're picking or click randomly. Since the button names are actions, reading them gives you enough info to make a choice.

    Confirmation prompts are not security.

    Security is telling the user what is happening and letting them do what they want, but not what they don't want. In this case, the user is informed something is a program and not data. They are then asked if they want to run the program or not. This stops the program masquerading as data (nudepics.jpg.exe) problem. It works too.

  • Chuckle (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Trojan35 (910785) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @12:38PM (#15660790)
    They don't buy Macs because 75% of the world still chuckles at the thought of a computer running anything BUT windows. When a person is already uncomfortable making a purchase they don't fully understand, they aren't going to buy the product that the salesperson laughed at them for even asking about... ...which is why the Apple stores are a very good idea for Apple.
  • by Genevish (93570) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @12:47PM (#15660856) Homepage
    Someone making $12,000 a year isn't going to be worried about buying ANY computer. Food and a place to live would be bigger issues.
  • 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"?
  • 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.
  • Re:Here here! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mclaincausey (777353) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @12:56PM (#15660924) Homepage
    Perhaps you've been in a coma or something, but most Mac hardware IS x86 hardware now.
  • 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.

  • by WeAreAllDoomed (943903) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:48PM (#15661262)
    Sure Macs are safe for now because how big is their market share? 5%? 10%? Linux has even lower while Microsoft controlls the remaining %, so naturally people are going to target it cause it has the most impact.

    linux isn't safer merely because it's a "smaller" target. the development model and worldwide peer review make the code qualitatively better than windows' proprietary code.

  • by mclaincausey (777353) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:49PM (#15661275) Homepage
    Anyone who uses a computer for business has missed the point entirely.
    Is there a reason why you feel qualified to tell others what "the point" is? From the profile:

    -If you're not doing something original and creative with a computer, you're wasting your time.
    So it's impossible to "do something original and creative with a computer" if what you're doing relates to business? I'm glad the folks at the engineering firms that brought this technology to us in the first place didn't feel that way.

    And FWIW, that computers are being used primarily for business isn't an assumption, it's a fact. Second behind that is viewing porn (the distribution of porn largely falling under the business side of things) :P. I wish they were used primarily for spreading world peace and ending hunger, but that just isn't so.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:34PM (#15661625)
    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 interfaces that would require a lot of time to learn.
    2. Games (related to 1). Game companies are doing better at porting to Macs, but this is still spotty at best. Bootcamp helps allay 1 and 2 a little, but that would rather negate the security advantage, now wouldn't it?
    3. The hardware problem. This is a big one for me. I like building my own systems. I like customizing my own systems. I like choosing the hardware features and upgrading individual components as *I* choose. I don't need Apple (or Dell, for that matter) telling me what I can and can't add or upgrade on *MY* system. This is a freedom which Apple users will likely never fully enjoy (sure, you can add some new memory, but what if you want to upgrade your motherboard or processor you support a new video card or latest game?).

    Just one geek's opinion.

    -Eric

  • by johnBurkey (986647) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:00PM (#15661861)
    Given that Vista is probably going to generate a round of hardware upgrades for everyone, and given that the new MacOS X Leopard runs windows apps ,via either via the Parallels thing http://www.parallels.com/en/products/workstation/m ac/ [parallels.com] or via some top secret Apple grown version of the same tech ( in which case giving great control, and probably running Windows apps in a window or something), ---- THEN IT SEEMS LIKE A GREAT UPGRADE IS TO BUY THE NEW HARDWARE FROM APPLE INSTEAD OF DELL/HP/etc, and GET THE NEW OS FROM APPLE INSTEAD.

    ---You get more security, etc, and you will get your next cool OS upgrade 1-2 years later instead of 5. (And you get to wear black turtle necks and jeans)

    And if Apple did something like put a firewall around the Windows instead, and not let it make internet connections except with user warning first, and you did all of your surfing and email in Apple land, wouldn't that be just fine?

    You get your windows XP apps running at ~ full speed, and you get your new OS, and you get security.

    How does Vista compete with that? Apple would have the same compatibility with XP apps (maybe more, XP would be running natively on the Leopard system, vista is a new version of the OS, and might have compatibility issues) Apple could even throw in an upgrade sticker kicker to make it even more cost competitive. Like if you show proof of purchase of XP you get an upgrade discount buying the Apple hardware.

    As a bonus you get iLife with the Mac: http://www.apple.com/ilife/ [apple.com], which could be better than most if not all of what is available on Windows for entry level photo/music/iPod Casting/Movie making, etc, and is FREE. You can always turn the mac into a beautiful windows Vista only machine later if you desire, so there is no Vendor lock in on stuff. You are basically trading the cost of the (Apple machine + Free iLife + MacOSX Tiger/Leopard + Free More Security) vs (new Vista Machine+Vista+Security headaches). To me this is the reason why the Mac argument works vs. the other OS choices, and in addition you have most of the important software Mac Native as well, so you can wean yourself off of Windows versions of other stuff at your convenience, trading increasing vendor dependency for more Mac native stuff (some people think that stuff is better, Ill leave that to you to make up your own mind).

  • by KIFulgore (972701) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:28PM (#15662685)
    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 JonTurner (178845) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:05PM (#15662948) Journal
    You just don't get it -- just like all the rest of you "mac" 'fanbois'. I don't want to reboot. Why should I have to? I don't want to pay for Windows AND OSX. Why should I have to? I don't want to partition off my HDD to have two OS's. Why should I have to? I don't want to have two HDD's; one for each OS. Why should I have to?
    And I want global peace, everyone to be a millionaire, and every child to have a pony. Michrech, let me be the first to tell you that you have to make some choices in this world. You can't have it all.

    I don't want to reboot. Why should I have to?
    Oh, I dunno... maybe to avoid viruses, spyware, adware, hackers, and gain ease of use, more control, real security, better user experience, included high-quality development tools, a real OS built on Mach Unix where you can drop to a terminal and get real work done, etc.? That's up for you to decide. Like I said, it's about choices.

    But hey, it's pretty clear from your attitude that no answer is going to be acceptable. You want a Windows box and nothing but Windows is acceptable. That's okay... just say so. (Though I suppose that would make you a fanboy, wouldn't it?) Nobody's forcing you to switch. You asked if something was possible without emulation, I told you it was and now that answer's not good enough. Just as I predicted.

    Nice product plug, however, it kinda fits into my NO VIRTUALIZATION SOFTWARE requirement, now doesn't it? Or did you think that because I didn't specifically mention it that it was somehow exempted?
    Settle down, Beavis. The "product plug" and mention of Bootcamp was part of my attempt to provide a complete answer. Had I not stated it, I suspect you would have criticized me for giving an incomplete answer. Besides, you said no emulation ("...NOT in VirtualPC/VMWare/Other Emulation Software...") but you didn't mention virtualization. Virtualization is not emulation, do you even understand the difference? You should, since it is significant.

    Now run along and play your little hero game on Windows.
  • Re: Overrated (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Minstrel Boy (787690) <kevin_stevens@hotmail.com> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:58PM (#15663283)
    I think that "peer code review" advantage of OSS is overrated - or at least offset by hunks of code being copied/reused all over the place. Remember the serious SNMP vulnerability from a couple of years ago that affected damn near *everybody*? How many times had *that* code been reviewed over the last twenty years?

    KeS
  • by samalone (707709) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @06:33PM (#15663461) Homepage

    I predict that within a week or so Sophos will follow-up this report with a "clarification" saying that they didn't actually mean it, that Microsoft Windows is a secure operating system when properly configured, etc., etc. The language will be such that anyone with an ounce of sense will realize that Microsoft has tightened the thumbscrews on them and essentially forced a retraction.

    --Stuart

  • by NateTech (50881) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @12:52AM (#15664989) Homepage
    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 mdwh2 (535323) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:40AM (#15666532) Journal
    Not to nitpick, but what's stopping you from running multiple apps while you're palying games on a Mac running windows under bootcamp? IT"S F@#KING Normal WINDOWS XP !! You could do whatever you wanted, the same as your normal Windows box.
    Geez for all I care you can run windows all day long on it


    Why yes, you could run games and applications on Windows, and not bother at all with dual booting into an OS that's not up to the job... that was my point.

    but then when the opportunity to do some real work does come up, you have choice whether to work in OS X or Windows. Where's the downside to that? Especially considering for comparable hardware, it would cost you the same.

    Using some applications some of the time, and other applications on another OS has its own set of problems - for example, email and other data being stored in different formats, or logs being split across two programs. Not to mention if I'm doing something more serious, in terms of expense (buying two sets of applications), and time and hassle spent learning two sets of applications. And with things like software development, that's a lot less likely to be an option at all.

    And you still revert back to the problem here - even if I'm doing some "real work", I might want to take a quick 5 minute breather doing something else, and I do not expect to have to shut everything, reboot, then later reboot again, and have to reopen everything. That is unacceptable.

    Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with dual booting for novelty value or for rare occasions when you might need to use another OS. What gets me is people who seem to think that continually rebooting into another OS as part of your necessary day-to-day usage is seen as an acceptable solution. It's not.

    I know the hassles with multi-booting because I've done it before. E.g., I once had Windows, BeOS and Linux installed, but I wouldn't advocate this by saying things like "Look, BeOS lets you run Windows and Linux applications too!"
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @11:24AM (#15667268)

    Umm, obviously you're just looking for some way to criticize Microsoft without actually knowing what you are talking about. Whether it says 'OK' or 'RUN', a dialog is a dialog. The fact is, people don't read them after they've popped up a handful of times.

    Read a book on interface design. Most all of them will cover the "ok/cancel mistake." It is classic operant conditioning. By providing the same two buttons over and over again, buttons that are not actions, and by not providing the user with the means to make a good decision, users are conditioned to always click "OK." If, however, users are provided with buttons that are actions and which are pertinent to the question asked the response is very different. On Windows users reflexively click the "OK" button that is always there and which is always in the same place and which means "keep working" to the average user. On other systems the user can't just click the same button in the same place, because they are not given that option. Instead they see the buttons, "don't run the program" and "run the program." Simply be reading these buttons the user is made aware that it is a program about to be run and not a picture about to be opened. It takes them a half a second and they have to think. At this point users that know what they want click and those that don't pause, and most read the dialogue box looking for help.

    This has been demonstrated time and again in usability studies and human/computer interaction experiments. The key is having different choices for different situation, using actions as button names, providing regular English in the dialogue messages, and providing reasonable choices. Windows does a terrible job of this and even after moving to another system, some users (but not most) take a little while to break conditioning and not just click on a random option all the time. Many other OS's and applications have varying levels of success with their implementation of this concept. OS X is one of the better ones, although far from perfect.

    Please, if you are going to comment and sound credible, at least know what you are talking about.

    I've studied UI design both formally and informally for years. I've read quite a few good books, and reviewed quite a few experiments. I've attended conferences and conducted usability testing. Using Google you should not have too much trouble finding information on this concept. UI design is part engineering and part psychology, but it is a maturing field. Windows is a poster child for what not to do in this case (although they do manage some other good UI design here and there in Windows). The fact is, people do read dialogue buttons and boxes as is appropriate, if they are presented with the proper frequency and in the correct way, instead of in the terribly broken way Windows has implemented them.

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