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Mac Security (New York Times)

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  • John Rethorst
    http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/07/macs-arent-safer-just-a-smaller-target/ John R.
    Message 1 of 8 , Apr 7 5:32 PM
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    • Paul Hogan
      The article says:Yet Macs’ relative safety is primarily due to their still-slim market share. They’re simply a waste of time for today’s attackers, who
      Message 2 of 8 , Apr 7 5:53 PM
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        The article says:Yet Macs� relative safety is primarily due to their
        still-slim market share. They�re simply a waste of time for today�s
        attackers, who are trying to accomplish crime on a large scale by
        infiltrating millions of computers.
        If Apple sells about 2 million Macs a quarter, and they stay in use for 3
        years, that is 24 million Macs. If a crook wants to infiltrate millions of
        computers, there they are, waiting to be plundered and used by people that
        don't buy software to protect themselves. To me, that makes them more of a
        target, not less of a target. So, if they remain relatively safe, perhaps it
        is for a reason other than their market share.
        Paul Hogan

        On Tue, Apr 7, 2009 at 5:32 PM, John Rethorst <jrethorst@...> wrote:

        >
        > http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/07/macs-arent-safer-just-a-smaller-target/
        >
        > John R.
        >
        >
        >


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      • John W
        Right on, Paul. The comparison the author makes is really bogus. All of the successful attacks required physical access to the Mac, or took advantage of
        Message 3 of 8 , Apr 7 9:14 PM
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          Right on, Paul. The comparison the author makes is really bogus. All of the "successful" attacks required physical access to the Mac, or took advantage of browser weaknesses, or used Microsoft Office macros. None of these are comparable to the attacks that have wreaked havoc on Windows users. (And all of them have been repaired.) 
          Apple does repair any security issue as soon as they can after discovery. And Apple does not recommend the use of a security program. On the other hand, a PC is at serious risk if it's virus software isn't on.
          John

          TODAY'S QUOTE: "I never vote for anyone. I always vote against." - W.C. Fields

          --- On Tue, 4/7/09, Paul Hogan <paul.hogan.atty@...> wrote:

          From: Paul Hogan <paul.hogan.atty@...>
          Subject: Re: [wpmac] Mac Security (New York Times)
          To: wordperfectmac@yahoogroups.com
          Date: Tuesday, April 7, 2009, 8:53 PM

          The article says:Yet Macs’ relative safety is primarily due to their
          still-slim market share. They’re simply a waste of time for today’s
          attackers, who are trying to accomplish crime on a large scale by
          infiltrating millions of computers.
          If Apple sells about 2 million Macs a quarter, and they stay in use for 3
          years, that is 24 million Macs. If a crook wants to infiltrate millions of
          computers, there they are, waiting to be plundered and used by people that
          don't buy software to protect themselves. To me, that makes them more of a
          target, not less of a target. So, if they remain relatively safe, perhaps it
          is for a reason other than their market share.
          Paul Hogan

          On Tue, Apr 7, 2009 at 5:32 PM, John Rethorst <jrethorst@...> wrote:

          >
          > http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/07/macs-arent-safer-just-a-smaller-target/
          >
          > John R.
          >

          >


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          ------------------------------------

          Yahoo! Groups Links








          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Kevin McCoy
          To me I just ask myself, does it really matter why? Do I care why Macs are not subject to the virus and worm attacks that Windows machines are subject to? A
          Message 4 of 8 , Apr 7 9:21 PM
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            To me I just ask myself, "does it really matter why?" Do I care why
            Macs are not subject to the virus and worm attacks that Windows
            machines are subject to?
            A (bad) analogy might be something like; I live in Seattle but I
            won't go on vacation to California because it might rain there
            someday. So I'll just stay here in rainy Seattle where I pretty much
            know it will rain every day of my vacation.

            -Kevin, enjoying the sunny days while they last. Which has been 25
            straight years of sun if I'm not mistaken…

            On Apr 7, 2009, at 6:53 PM, Paul Hogan wrote:

            > The article says:Yet Macs’ relative safety is primarily due to their
            > still-slim market share. They’re simply a waste of time for today’s
            > attackers, who are trying to accomplish crime on a large scale by
            > infiltrating millions of computers.
            > If Apple sells about 2 million Macs a quarter, and they stay in use
            > for 3
            > years, that is 24 million Macs. If a crook wants to infiltrate
            > millions of
            > computers, there they are, waiting to be plundered and used by
            > people that
            > don't buy software to protect themselves. To me, that makes them
            > more of a
            > target, not less of a target. So, if they remain relatively safe,
            > perhaps it
            > is for a reason other than their market share.
            > Paul Hogan
            >
            > On Tue, Apr 7, 2009 at 5:32 PM, John Rethorst <jrethorst@...>
            > wrote:
            >
            >>
            >> http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/07/macs-arent-safer-
            >> just-a-smaller-target/
            >>
            >> John R.
            >>
          • Randy B. Singer
            ... I just submitted this to the site. We ll see if they post it: The theory that there aren t enough Macs being used, and as a result virus writers haven t
            Message 5 of 8 , Apr 7 9:52 PM
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              On Apr 7, 2009, at 5:53 PM, Paul Hogan wrote:

              > The article says:Yet Macs’ relative safety is primarily due to their
              > still-slim market share.


              I just submitted this to the site. We'll see if they post it:

              The theory that there aren't enough Macs being used, and
              as a result virus writers haven't found the Mac to be a worthy enough
              target (security through obscurity), doesn't stand up to even the
              smallest application of logic.

              If there aren't enough Macs in use to interest virus writers, why is
              it that there are apparently enough Macs in use to interest other
              software authors? There are literally tens of thousands of software
              applications for the Macintosh:
              http://guide.apple.com/index.lasso
              http://www.versiontracker.com/macosx/
              Why would it be that there are enough Macs in use for legitimate
              commercial software developers, and not for virus-writing sociopaths?

              Macintosh OS X has been out now for over 8 years. For eight long
              years Windows apologists have been saying that eventually there will
              be lots of viruses for Macs running OS X.

              The next Macintosh virus will be....the first.

              Windows computers have...over 180,000 viruses!
              http://vil.nai.com/vil/default.aspx

              The Macintosh market share is, for the sake of argument, only about
              5%. That represents about 25 to 30 million Mac users according to
              Apple. That doesn't sound like an insignificant number to me.

              The Mac's share of viruses is...what...zero percent? With a 5%
              market share, why isn't it
              5%? Or even a paltry half of a percent? Why is it an astounding
              zero percent?

              Back when the Macintosh was running OS 7, OS 8 and OS 9 (prior to the
              advent of
              OS X with its UNIX underpinnings), and the Mac had a much smaller market
              share than today, there were a decent number of viruses for the
              Macintosh. (Though nowhere near the huge number that exist for
              Windows. And most of the OS 8/9 viruses that existed weren't
              seriously malicious.)

              See:
              http://www.faqs.org/faqs/computer-virus/macintosh-faq/
              Section 7

              So, clearly, a small market share does not equal no viruses.

              Apparently the lack of viruses for Macs running OS X has nothing to do
              with its proportion of market share. Maybe the lack of viruses for
              Macs running OS X has to do with something else? Maybe Windows is
              inherently more vulnerable
              to malware attacks than OS X?

              See:

              Viruses and Operating Systems
              by David Pogue (see page 5 of this PDF)
              http://www.vbcg.org/newsletters/2003/Nov03.pdf

              Broken Windows
              http://daringfireball.net/2004/06/broken_windows

              So Witty (followup to Broken Windows)
              http://daringfireball.net/2004/06/so_witty

              Is Windows inherently more vulnerable to malware attacks than OS X?
              http://weblog.infoworld.com/enterprisemac/archives/2006/08/
              is_windows_inhe.html

              InfoWorld Publishes False Report on Mac Security
              http://www.roughlydrafted.com/RD/RDM.Tech.Q2.07/616874CC-35CE-49D3-
              B859-C2719B6FF352.html

              ___________________________________________
              Randy B. Singer
              Co-author of The Macintosh Bible (4th, 5th, and 6th editions)

              Macintosh OS X Routine Maintenance
              http://www.macattorney.com/ts.html
              ___________________________________________
            • Malcolm Fitzgerald
              ... Nice headline. Let s turn it around. How about : Crooks see no profit in Macs Then rewrite the main point of the story to make one point clear: Windows
              Message 6 of 8 , Apr 7 9:52 PM
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                On 08/04/2009, at 10:32 AM, John Rethorst wrote:

                > http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/07/macs-arent-safer-just-a-smaller-target/

                Nice headline. Let's turn it around. How about : "Crooks see no profit
                in Macs"

                Then rewrite the main point of the story to make one point clear:

                Windows OS is under continuous attack by nefarious organisations that
                seek to profit from any vulnerabilities that they can exploit. That is
                bad news for any Windows user. The Macintosh OS is not attacked or
                threatened in that way. That is good news for any Macintosh user.


                Malcolm
              • Patrick Sheffield
                Another theory put forward used to be that Macs were too expensive for eastern euro-hackers with no budget. But with a VERY active hackintosh scene, that
                Message 7 of 8 , Apr 8 12:24 AM
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                  Another theory put forward used to be that Macs were too expensive for
                  eastern euro-hackers with no budget. But with a VERY active hackintosh
                  scene, that theory is put to rest...

                  Patrick

                  On Apr 7, 2009, at 9:52 PM, Randy B. Singer wrote:

                  >
                  > On Apr 7, 2009, at 5:53 PM, Paul Hogan wrote:
                  >
                  > > The article says:Yet Macs� relative safety is primarily due to their
                  > > still-slim market share.
                  >
                  > I just submitted this to the site. We'll see if they post it:
                  >
                • Chad Smith
                  I think both sides are oversimplifying things. It is true - Macs are less of a target. Security through obscurity is very much in play. It is also true that
                  Message 8 of 8 , Apr 8 7:49 AM
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                    I think both sides are oversimplifying things.

                    It is true - Macs are less of a target. Security through obscurity is very
                    much in play.
                    It is also true that Mac OS X, being a Unix based system designed from the
                    ground up this century, is by its very nature a more secure system.

                    It is also true that Windows is a much bigger (read more profitable and more
                    headlines grabbing) target than Mac.
                    It is also true that Windows is buggy, bloated, and burdened with supporting
                    over 15 years of legacy apps and leftover code from an operating system
                    designed before there was a world wide web. There is still code from
                    Windows 95 in Windows 7. Core code. All of this makes it much more of an
                    easy target.

                    The expense of Macs also can be prohibited for hackers, (European or
                    otherwise), who are not known for paying full price for anything. And the
                    Hackintosh scene may change that. (I, for example, have both a MacBook and
                    a $350 netbook that is running Mac OS X 10.5.6.)

                    However, what that last part overlooks is - hackers are not
                    super-intelligent uber-coders who can crank out a world-stopping virus in 60
                    minutes with nothing more than a text editor on a Pentium 2. Nor are they
                    slick reluctant heroes who can hijack the Pentegon in 60 seconds if they
                    have a gun to their heads. They are greedy losers who "stand on the backs
                    of giants" by tweaking existing viruses, trojans, and worms to do what they
                    want them to do. The term is "Script kiddies". They just lump a bunch of
                    scripts that they find on their darknets together to make it do something.

                    Are their hackers writing original code? Sure - there would have to be,
                    right? But most viruses - the vast majority of them - are just variations
                    on a theme. Even this latest major bug "Conficker" was actually "Conflicker
                    D" meaning there were at least 3 preceding viruses.

                    All that so say - add to the secure nature of Mac OS X, its limitations on
                    the hardware it supports, its expense, and its smaller target size - add to
                    all that the lack of existing malware raw materials for the hackers to use.
                    Then throw in Windows decades of vulenarablities, its familiarity to
                    hackers, the vast treasure houses of existing malware to play with, the
                    bigger target, its widespread use in businesses, banks, and governments, (IE
                    - Where the real money is), and it's much larger marketshare... Mix, bake,
                    and serve. Somewhere in there do you get the "true reason" why Macs are
                    ultimately pragmatically malware free.

                    In the end, though, the reason why doesn't really matter (until that reason
                    changes and we're no longer safe). The fact remains I don't need antivirus,
                    antispyware, antiadware, etc. software on my MacBook. That's good enough
                    for me.

                    - Chad Smith
                    http://www.chadwsmith.com/


                    On Wed, Apr 8, 2009 at 2:24 AM, Patrick Sheffield
                    <psheffield@...>wrote:

                    > Another theory put forward used to be that Macs were too expensive for
                    > eastern euro-hackers with no budget. But with a VERY active hackintosh
                    > scene, that theory is put to rest...
                    >
                    > Patrick
                    >
                    > On Apr 7, 2009, at 9:52 PM, Randy B. Singer wrote:
                    >
                    > >
                    > > On Apr 7, 2009, at 5:53 PM, Paul Hogan wrote:
                    > >
                    > > > The article says:Yet Macs� relative safety is primarily due to their
                    > > > still-slim market share.
                    > >
                    > > I just submitted this to the site. We'll see if they post it:
                    > >
                    >
                    >
                    > ------------------------------------
                    >
                    > Yahoo! Groups Links
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >


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