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Want Security? Make The Switch 549

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

    by gumbi west ( 610122 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:03AM (#15659800) Journal
    On a Mac you actually have to confirm that you intend to run a new app the first time that you run one. The basic idea is to make one more click for these instances. It's not perfect, but it is more secure than not having it.
  • Re:However.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by sqlrob ( 173498 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:05AM (#15659809)
    Not completely true.

    You don't need admin privileges to screw a users account and do "useful" things. Point of example - MyDoom.A didn't need Administrative privileges for anything it did.
  • 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. :)

  • Re:Why Bother? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:20AM (#15659872)
    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.

    Not true – a lot of Mac users are just ordinary people who have been using Macs forever, and just wouldn't want/need to have anything else. For example, someone I know – who runs a school computer lab full of Windows systems – has been a Mac user at home for years, and she's got the latest OS X and everything, and she's a very smart person, but as far as computer security, etc. goes I don't think she'd be quite up to the same level as most of the /. crowd. (Her mother's also a Mac user – never used anything else – in her eighties or somewhere around there, so it's probably not so much the security or anything as it is just what she's familiar with.)

    [Posting anonymously to protect their identities]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:37AM (#15659946)
    That was with terminal access to the machine trying to get admin rights.
  • No need to fill up the form to download the whitepaper. Just download it from the following URI: terial/SophosSecurityReport_2005.pdf []

    Just a trivial case of Google Hacking [].

  • Re:However.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by NutscrapeSucks ( 446616 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:00AM (#15660082)
    On OS X, you can do more than screw the user account. The entire Applications directory is writable as users are in the "Admin" group by default.

    The perms in general are a good deal looser than a normal Unix system in order to make it more useful as a single-user desktop. Totally understandable decision, but peopel tend to make assumptions about the protection level of OS X sudo login system that aren't true.
  • Re:However.... (Score:1, Informative)

    by bach_m ( 692327 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <leahcim.hcab>> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:15AM (#15660171) Homepage
    If you're opening a file that opens a program that's never been run before you get the prompt. otherwise, clicking the icon in Aplications/the dock is confirmation enough
  • Re:However.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by NSObject ( 250170 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:16AM (#15660180)

    Not quite.

    When you double click a document that tries to open an app that has never been run, you'll get a warning. Double clicking the app itself will happily run it the first time, no questions asked.

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

    by MoneyT ( 548795 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:43AM (#15660411) Journal
    A correction, users are not in the admin group by default, only the first user of the machine. Subsequent users are by default not administrators.
  • by Traiklin ( 901982 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:45AM (#15660427) Homepage
    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 of the backups not being compatable with Macs or any others because of all the DRM people didn't know about on the Windows Machine, So then you are back to square one. People will think Macs & linux/BSD/Whatever is stupid because they aren't compatable with the stuff they have amassed over the years.

    Then you have people with little kids who like to play games, you can't exactly pop in the disc and it automatically installs the game like on a windows machine (if it will even install at all), for most people a computer is a computer, only the names are different, so they don't know anything about system requirments, With macs not being cheap by any means it wouldn't suprise me to hear a number of them are returned for simply not working being the majority of the complaints.

    Sure they can go on and on and on about how it's more secure, but a story will come along not to long saying some website's encryption was cracked and lots of user data was stolen. It doesn't really seem to matter what OS you are using, aslong as assholes who think it's cool to create malware, spyware, viruses and so on exsist it will always be there and whatever the most dominant OS is that will be the main target. 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.

    Just like when someone robs a place, Macs and others are like Banks, they have tighter securty but there is a bigger payoff (by being able to say you were the one that broke it) but Windows is like the little shop on the coner, there's a whole lot more of them and they have cash right there in front of you and are lacking in security. So naturally you are going to take the easier place to rob...especially when you act like a 12 year old who thinks you are "1337" because you ran a script.
  • Re:However.... (Score:4, Informative)

    by WhiteWolf666 ( 145211 ) <> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:56AM (#15660519) Homepage Journal
    It's more complicated than that.

    On your Mac, as a default admin user, try and delete an application from your Applications directory?

    Can you do it without typing in your password?

    Nope; The directory is writable, however, the contents are not. Interesting, no? You can create new entries, but you cannot alter/delete existing entries.

    Seems like a satisfactory security model to me. I guess it enables "spoofing" issues.
  • by dgiaimo ( 794924 ) <> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:25PM (#15661091) Homepage
    Ummm... The cheapest iMac is $1299 new. That is expensive, and it is one of the big reasons that I have stuck with Windows for so long.
  • by 47Ronin ( 39566 ) <glenn.47ronin@com> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:50PM (#15661286) Homepage
    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!
  • by JonTurner ( 178845 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:55PM (#15661798) Journal
    >>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 - However, Parallels Desktop doesn't (yet?) offer 3D acceleration, so BootCamp (which is free) is a better solution for 3D video games. No, with Bootcamp you can't run Final Cut Pro at the same time you play City Of Heroes, but then again, who does? And that's the premise of your original question and the reason I suspect it's a strawman -- who plays videogames while SIMULTANEOUSLY doing their taxes, writing code in Visual Studio, etc.? And if the 60 seconds for a reboot from Mac OS X to WindowsXP is too costly, perhaps you don't have time to be playing video games. Or maybe I just don't get it.
  • by tenton ( 181778 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:15PM (#15661975)
    You do, of course, realize that WoW and Starcraft are native Mac applications and if you buy either game, the disc just happens to be a hybrid Mac/PC disc (usable on either system)? It's not using "Wine", it's using the native APIs in the OS.

    Now, playing CoV/CoH and DDO is a different story, but, two of the most popular games ever are Mac native and have been for quite a while.

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.