The CNN Report: Viruses Make Their Way to the Mac
Both IT departments and computer security firms exist because Windows is a product that takes massive amounts of labor to run, maintain, and secure. Mac OS X has a reputation for being simple, reliable, and secure; so you can bet that lots of folks in the industry are sweating what’s going to happen now. There are a lot of folks looking forward to it but there are more sweating it. They know little or nothing about the platform. Better to shoot the messenger than face up to the truth.
That’s not to say that the virus problem won’t grow worse. The one point of the article I agreed with was that viruses on Mac OS X will become more of a problem because of Apple’s switch to the Intel processor. I’ve said that previously in this blog. X86 platform exploits are well known; but, more importantly, it is now much easier for a hacker to test an OS X exploit than it was before. That PLUS Apple’s swelling market share will make Macs more of a target. It is only a matter of time before running anti-virus software will be as much of a mainstay on the Mac as it is on Windows. When that happens, we will see the press furor about viruses on the Mac vanish. It won’t be because it’s not news anymore; it will be because the security companies will no longer feel it necessary to make it news. Today, they’re trying to scare Mac users into buying their products; tomorrow, when you have them and they are vulnerable to a new virus just released, you can bet those companies won’t say a word until they have a patch to combat it.
Ironically, the people who have the most secure systems often tend to be those who are running older operating systems. If you have a G5 Mac in the house, it might be worthwhile to consider keeping it around. We intend to keep one here for several years not only to run software I currently own but to keep one in case the virus problem with the Mac turns out to be worse than I think it’s going to be.
Regardless, when I read headlines like the ones on CNN this weekend, I’m going to put them in perspective. From a security standpoint, there’s not a weaker operating system out there than Windows and OS X will only get stronger.