A Windows user gloats -- Macs are vulnerable, too

As a long-time Windows user, I've been subject through the years by taunts from Apple lovers that Macs are invulnerable to attack, unlike PCs with security holes large enough for trucks to drive through. So pardon me while I gloat over the news that more than 600,000 Macs have been infected with a Trojan.

The trojan is called Flashback, and Russian antivirus vendor Doctor Web says that more than 600,000 Macs have been infected. More than 300,000 of the infected Macs are in the United States, with 100,000 in Canada, 68,000 in the U.K. and 32,000 in Australia.

It proves what I among others have been saying for years: The Mac is far from invulnerable to attacks, and a primary reason it seems safer is that there are far fewer Mac users than Windows users, and so Macs don't represent as valuable a target as PCs. 

For example, back in 2008, in the "Pwn to Own" challenge, the Mac's security was breached faster than a PC running Vista, or a Ubuntu machine -- it took less than two minutes for someone to break in.

Security researcher Dino Dai Zovi told Computerworld that Vista is safer than Mac OS X:

"I have found the code quality, at least in terms of security, to be much better overall in Vista than Mac OS X 10.4. It is obvious from observing affected components in security patches that Microsoft's Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) has resulted in fewer vulnerabilities in newly-written code. I hope that more software vendors follow their lead in developing proactive software security development methodologies."

Another sign that Macs are just as vulnerable as PCs is the recent release of free Mac anti-virus software from Avira. Avira joins a long list of makers of Mac security software, including Kaspersky Lab, Intego, PC Tools, Symantec, McAfee, Trend Micro, and Sophos. If the Mac truly were immune to attack, these software makers wouldn't waste their time making Mac security software.

So as a long-time Windows uers, permit me to gloat for a little while. Only a little while, though. I have a Macbook Air in addition to Windows PCs, and I've got to patch it to protect against Flashback.


Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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