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McAfee Feigns Fear at Mac Security 403

conq writes "BusinessWeek reports that McAfee has just come out with a report which asks the question 'Is Mac OS X the Next Windows?'." They appear to be attempting to scare consumers into buying anti-virus software for OSX. Blogger Arik Hesseldahl breaks down their claims: "First off, Mac users on average pay more for their computers, are self-selected because they tend to know more about technology than your average PC buyer, and by and large are a bit more affluent than those who buy cheapo commodity Windows PCs ... When you take into account the ongoing growth in general PC ownership, even if Apple pushes its annual unit sales to 12 million or more by 2010, its share of the overall market will still account for about 4%, leaving Windows the far more tasty target."
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McAfee Feigns Fear at Mac Security

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  • by TrippTDF ( 513419 ) <hiland.gmail@com> on Friday May 05, 2006 @10:44AM (#15269986)
    Im' an avid fan of Macs, and I don't run anti-vi on my Powerbook, but I DO run it on the Macs in my office for a reason that people don't often think of: Macs can be a virus CARRIER, even if they can't be infected!

    A few years ago I had a situation (in an all mac offce) where we burned a CD and sent it to a client (the client was Windows based). The client complained that some of the files were infected. As a Mac-only office, I didn't care about running virus protection, so the files went unchecked.

    In my current office, a mixed enviroment, I make sure that both OS's are covered. even if the chance of the macs getting infected is next to nill, I want my PCs to be safe.
  • by portwojc ( 201398 ) on Friday May 05, 2006 @10:49AM (#15270027) Homepage
    They know more about the technology they are buying because they only, for the most part, buy Mac products.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 05, 2006 @10:52AM (#15270059)
    That's because you don't know me . I program for a living (a very nice living, BTW) and my clients include many US Fortune 100 companies. All done from a Mac using a variety of technologies.
  • by addie macgruer ( 705252 ) on Friday May 05, 2006 @10:53AM (#15270066)
    They have produced some good-looking graphs; however, the number of viruses observed (about 2 per year for the last decade) means that the substantial upturn could be little more than statistical noise.

    I think it speaks for itself that, according to that PDF, the macintoshes with 1/50th of the market share have 1/1315th of the number of identified viruses, somewhat disproportionate to their decreased market share.

    Have got MacAffee antivirus installed as corporate policy on my business peesee, and it humbles what is otherwise a fairly able laptop. Perhaps Apple's move to a more powerful architecture means that they can now shoulder the MacAffee burden too?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 05, 2006 @10:58AM (#15270107)
    Uh, do we live in the same universe?

    "When Vista comes out, potentially their market is going to quickly dry up."

    Considering that Vista had to be patched for an XP security hole, I don't think that antivirus companies will suddenly lose out on the windows market.

    But yeah, I suppose that Vista could miraculously be virus proof. :P
  • by benbritten ( 72301 ) on Friday May 05, 2006 @11:13AM (#15270240) Homepage
    Ok, so i see a pattern here. over the last twenty years all i ever heard about the mac was about how dead apple was, and how they were going to vanish and the company was going to go under.

    Now all i hear about is that 'any day now' All the macs on the planet are going to be suddenly and utterly destroyed by the impending virus rush.

    Look, I don't encourage people to run any system without security. My macs are all behind a nice firewall. However, I think that, given the record of some clever young programmers to break industry strength security in short order, i wonder when all of these virus writers are going to come over and focus on the mac? i mean, the mac market hasn't really changed much in the last year or two. (in terms of numbers) and the hardware change doesnt seem to have made it any easier to infect the systems.

    Mac users and the mac community in general have been snobbishly touting the no viruses thing for quite awhile now. There are tons of clever hackers out there who can break all sorts of security, yet all we have so far are a few lame-ass trojans that you have to type your password in to install. (which, really are not viruses so much) So apparently the big carrot of 'first mac virus that actually was a virus' is really not that big of a carrot.

    While i am a software engineer on macs, my expertise does not lie in the virus-area, so i can't really say if it is really much harder to write for the mac, or if it is just unappealing in a business sense (for the virus writers).

    my opinion: if i measured my income with each thousand machines i added to my botnet with a virus i wrote, then i think i would stick to the 95% of the market that is fairly homogenous in terms of security. (ie all windows) and leave the outlying OSes (mac, linux) because even if both mac and linux double or triple their respective marketshares in the next five years, windows will still be the easy choice for virus makers.

  • by hackstraw ( 262471 ) * on Friday May 05, 2006 @11:17AM (#15270275)
    I'm sorry, but McAfee putting out a security report is like Exxon putting out an environmental assessment for Alaskan drilling. Slight conflict of interest there. It doesn't matter who they quote. They simply cannot be trusted because making a profit will always be their number one priority.

    But you see, there are companies that make products, even have "monopolies" in their market, yet don't spread FUD or even advertise to my knowledge.

    Take Bic for example. There revenue comes from: stationery (pens, pencils, highlighters, markers, crayons, and correction products): 50%, lighters (disposable, utility, and special-edition): 25%, and shavers (men's and women's): 19%.

    Their lighters are arguably the best and pretty much the monopoly on disposable lighters. The price of them has not gone up in 20 years. They are excellent lighters.

    No FUD, no marketing to speak of, whatever. There are many, many companies with products that simply do well on their own merits.

  • by Ilgaz ( 86384 ) on Friday May 05, 2006 @11:32AM (#15270384) Homepage
    Are we getting old or nobody really remembers the scandalous "anti virus" built into MS DOS 6.22 which was treated as a virus itself by "real" anti-viruses?

    It didn't make anyone go out of business, it even created a better business.

    I am not speaking about the crap MCafee sells as antivirus. I am talking about "real antiviruses" of today which even runs a virtual processor in them to score heuristics, in cases like F Secure, neural networks based scanning.
  • by almostmanda ( 774265 ) on Friday May 05, 2006 @11:36AM (#15270411)
    "Self-selected" does not imply "chosen ones". It's a common statistical term.
  • by auctoris ( 888249 ) on Friday May 05, 2006 @11:42AM (#15270455) Homepage
    I'm writing from a publishing company that has been running on Mac *exclusively* since 1987 (in business since '69). We have *never* owned a PC or Windows. Our IT dept is exclusively Mac. We do everything from desktop publishing to Web development and serving, database development and serving, Unix system administration, etc. No PCs, no Windows--ever. All Mac, all the time. And I am definitely not going to overgeneralize, but many IT people I have met know Microsoft and that's about it. Many Mac IT people I have met know Mac, Linux, Windows, Solaris, etc. The general trend I have noticed is that IT people who use Macs have a broader scope of technical knowledge overall than the Windows only IT departments.
  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Friday May 05, 2006 @11:43AM (#15270460) Homepage
    They buy Macs specifically to *avoid* having to know anything about technology.

    That used to be true, but these days, people who know nothing about computers like to use "normal computers", by which they mean MS Windows. In my experience (which is fairly extensive), current Macintosh users break into a couple of groups:

    1. Hold-overs: They've been using Macintoshes since Apple was big the first time. They're fans. They know off-hand which model of Macintosh was new in 1992, and can tell you the code-name of that model. These people know lots about Macintoshes, but little about computers in general.
    2. Hipsters: Apple is cool now, and people who want the cool computer to match their iPod and the rest of their home-decor buy iMacs.
    3. Pros: People who work in graphic design, audio, or movies were trained on Macintoshes, and that's what they're used to, so they tend to want to stick with it. It's like a tradition-- that's what graphic designers used at first, so when they trained people, they trained them on Macintoshes, and so those trainees used Macintoshes and trained their trainees on Macintoshes, and so on. Also, being "artistic", they want their computers to be pretty.
    4. Geeks: The geek mac users have been in an up-swing. These are people who are anti-Microsoft, pro-Unix, but prefer the experience of using Aqua to Gnome|KDE|Xfce, or just want more support for natively running major applications such as MS Office or Photoshop.
    5. By-standers: People who have been influenced in some way by one of the above groups. After a couple years of having their trusted friend/relative saying, "You should use a Macintosh," they gave in.

    There may be a couple others, but those are the major groups I can think of. And none of them are using Macintoshes to avoid knowing about computers. In fact, most of them believe that they're using Macintoshes because they know better than 90% of the people out there.

  • by chowhound ( 136628 ) on Friday May 05, 2006 @11:44AM (#15270469) Homepage
    How this crap got modded Insightful I'll never know.

    I'm not so sure after seeing the new Apple commercials saying how PCs have all of these Viruses; however, Macs are not susceptible to them. This could get more people to purchase Macs and while it might not be as large a target, if the majority of the community isn't being cautious it could be seen as an easy target. You will see outbreaks of Mac viruses. It's only a matter of time.

    I think we've already discussed to death that Mac virus security is not due to obscurity but rather due to sensible security practices built in. We've been hearing "it's only a matter of time before a virus brings the whole Mac community to their knees" drivel for years. Still waiting on that service pack?

    As for Mac purchasers being more computer savy. I don't really consider the majority of the artsy, yuppies that are the majority of the Mac audiance to be over savy.

    I'd have to say that with a Unix command prompt and OS X/WinBlows/Linux dual- and tri-boot capability you're gonna see a lot more fascinating possibilities for tinkering that appeal to true geeks. Perhaps not so much to the poltroons whose idea of originality in computing is to casemod a neon light and window onto their beige hunk-o-junk, or who use their (e)machines simply as pricy game consoles. If that makes me a artsy yuppie for wanting to delve into my computer's innards, then I'll switch my 2600 shirt for a cardigan and my ratty sneakers for penny loafers.

    OK, have at me. I can take it!

  • by Stamen ( 745223 ) on Friday May 05, 2006 @11:47AM (#15270490)
    I was network engineer for many years, then I became programmer, which I've been doing for many more years. At work I use a PC, but at home it's all Macs. And now that my Macbook Pro runs Windows so d@mn well, my next work computer will probably be a mac also.

    Why? Simple: Mac = *nix (which I love on servers) + great windows manager

    That's my reason, period. For things which I don't want to fuss with (music, digital photos, updates, etc) OS X is simple and I don't have to worry about it. For things that I do want to fuss with I have BSD, XWindows, and everything else you find on your linux distro. Best of both worlds, although at a higher price and being locked into one hardware company.

    Over the years I tried and tried to replace Windows with a good Linux desktop distro. There was always something that was lacking. Then I found OS X.

    I think you will find more and more technical people moving over to OS X, at least *nix ones. Now I have to admit that also enjoy design work, so I really appreciate beautiful things, wether that being perfectly simple elegant code or the PowerBook, so perhaps you should ignore everything I said above.
  • by jdelaney ( 874271 ) on Friday May 05, 2006 @12:29PM (#15270841)
    No marketing to speak of, hmmmm I guess some people are unaware of the secret world of supermarket checkout aisles. Hey, you know how when you go to the grocery store there are always the same certain items at the checkout aisle? Grocery store chains do not randomly select the same items from coast to coast...or do they. Talk about mass marketing.
  • LMAO (Score:5, Interesting)

    by blueZ3 ( 744446 ) on Friday May 05, 2006 @12:54PM (#15271098) Homepage
    Wow dude, you had me in hysterics there... Seriously, coffee out the nose hillarity. Thanks for the laugh

    Building your own box (by which psuedo-geeks mean "assembling six pre-built components into a working PC") makes one sooo technically superior. I mean, you probably have to have like what, a post-grad education to correctly install the MB and insert the PCI cards, right? Those PCs are just so complicated these days.

    I used to build my own PCs... about 10 years ago. Then I grew up, got a life, and stopped spending my personal time fritzing around with hardware. I may work in the software industry, but I'll be damned if I'm going to spend my free time doing IT work. Give me a Mac any day.
  • There is a port... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Hymer ( 856453 ) on Friday May 05, 2006 @02:39PM (#15272057)
    of ClamAV [clamav.net] to Mac OS X (10.2, 10.3, 10.4). It is called clamXav [markallan.co.uk]. It does have on access scanning and a GUI.
    I use it on my PowerBook, it is quite easy to install, configure and use.

    ...did I say it is free ?
  • by prockcore ( 543967 ) on Friday May 05, 2006 @03:28PM (#15272517)
    Macs can be a virus CARRIER, even if they can't be infected!

    True.. but they can also be infected, especially in a corporate environment.

    Entourage and Word on OSX are susceptable to macro viruses! There's a pretty bad one going around right now. Our IT dept just finished re-osing one of the editor's powerbooks because his entourage was spamming the hell out of everyone... due to a macro virus.

    It's funny that it's caused by MS software, but that doesn't change the fact that Macs can and *do* get viruses today.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 05, 2006 @09:07PM (#15274669)
    "Wow, we could have spent 10 times more money in the long run due to lost productivity and hardware repair by buying systems at one fifth the cost."

    That's the worst case and one that some businesses have experienced by going with first gen Apple products instead of being sensible and waiting for revisions.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"