Are Mac computers secure?
Yes. While no computer connected to the Internet is 100 percent immune to viruses and spyware, the Mac is built on a solid UNIX foundation and designed with security in mind. The Mac web browser, Safari, alerts you whenever you’re downloading an application — even if it’s disguised as a picture or movie file. And Apple continually makes free security updates available for Mac owners. You can even have them download automatically.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Hackers are Opportunists
Over the years we've all seen the arguments over which operating system is "better" or for the purposes of this blog, more secure. In the end, I've always contended that any OS can be mis-configured equally poorly and each of the relevant, modern operating platforms has their positives and negatives. Whereas Microsoft's Windows platform tends to cater to the less technically intensive administrators, Linux covers those who need ultimate flexibility and aren't afraid to write their own code when the need comes, and the various UNIX platforms cater to more advanced administrators who don't need the GUI to control their OS. Those are given, accepted arguments that don't need to be re-defined.
At the desktop, the debate of late has been which OS is more secure in spite of the user sitting at the controls. While Apple has launched an entire campaign aimed at making Microsoft's Vista OS look inept, insecure, and crash-prone... and quite frankly "no fun" they have quietly misled the audience. Apple's message, snuck into the latter series of the commercials, has been "Macs don't get viruses or malware"... yet they continue to advise their users to purchase and use anti-virus applications.
Interestingly enough under the Mac's Frequently Asked Questions section you'll find this little gem:
Fairly interesting, there is no mention of needing anti-malware software anywhere... Even more interesting is this link from SC Magazine which takes note of the quiet release from Apple telling users to start using Anti-Malware software on their Macs... even more interesting is the fact that the alert issued apparently doesn't exist anymore (it was pulled, or changed, or....?).
Now it looks like there is even a new trojan hidden inside some Mac software (warez) downloads from the pirate Internet which creates a Mac botnet! While reports of how effective this botnet and trojan really was has been debated - quite frankly it's immaterial. The fact is, Macs are now a taret too. The Macintosh has become a victim of its own success, much like the PC was years and years ago. Apple's brilliant marketing blitz coupled with users' backlash against Windows operating-systems issues has propelled Macs to the height of popularity - of course this means new Mac owners and thus more Macs out there to exploit and use.
Hackers are opportunists, I hope that's no revalation. The goal of a hacker is to exploit a system to achieve some end, usually that end is to make money. If I'm a writer of malicious code (or other malware) I want to tough the largest audience possible with my piece of software - therefore I will go after the largest market-share of operating systems. This clear example illustrates why Windows users have been the taret for such an overwhelmingly large percentage of malware over the years... simple economics.
Now that Macs have become more popular we're starting to see an huge influx of clueless Mac users, much like the PC experienced years and years ago. Naturally, this means that more malicious software will start to flood the dark corners of the Internet as user volumes increase for the Mac.
Stay vigilant... it doesn't matter what OS you're using, what browser you're using and how natively secure you were told your operating system is... you're going to be a target at some point. There is no such thing as effortlessly secure, the fact is that whether you're using a Mac, a Windows OS, or something else - you're still going to be a victim if you're ignorant.