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Apple Security Myth Busted

Many of us are under the impression that Macs are inherently far more secure than Windows PCs, which is why I've bought no less than six Macs for my 4 kids -- even though they cost three times as much as an equivalent PC. I can't be bothered reinstalling Windows every six months, not to mention the time a horrid virus blasted my eight-year-old son with vile, unstoppable pop-ups -- pop-ups that would make Bob Guccione blush.

A theory on why Apple is safer is that there are fewer Macs to attack, so hackers don't bother. And the bad guys simply don't hate the Mac like they do Windows.

Eugene Kaspersky, founder of the security company that bears his name, apparently believes the latter. Now that hackers are taking aim at the Mac, these machines may be more vulnerable than their acolyte owners believe. They may even have to cough up for some security software unless Apple builds it and maintains it for them free like Microsoft now does with Security Essentials.

It may be that Kaspersky is trying to seed the market for Mac security software (his company does has a $40 antivirus package for the Mac), but I think that market will happen or not with or without Eugene's assistance.

First, he sees attacks on the rise and feels it's inevitable that the Mac become a major target.

While Apple does provide updates, it is over a decade behind what Microsoft does with Patch Tuesday, and here's a personal note: A decade ago, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates declared the Trustworthy Computing Initiative. If there's one thing Gates rarely or ever did, it was give lip service. And over the last 10 years, in my opinion, Microsoft has done anything but give lip service to security.

In fact, Kaspersky believes Apple needs to spend the kind of time Microsoft takes checking code for security problems. "Welcome to Microsoft's world, Mac. It's full of malware," Kaspersky says.

In my heart of hearts I've believed that Mac's OS, having been built on a Unix/Mach kernel, was more secure. Now I must rethink that notion. As usual, my ultimate conclusion may rely on the wise counsel of you, the Redmond Report reader. What say you? Spill it at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 04/30/2012 at 1:19 PM


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