How Secure Is Apple's Snow Leopard for the Enterprise?

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2009-06-29 Print this article Print

NEWS ANALYSIS: Snow Leopard is being touted as a winner in the security space by Apple. But do its features really hold up? With the upcoming release of Microsoft Windows 7, business users might have a better chance to compare the security features of Apple to Microsoft.

When it comes to the enterprise, security is a constant concern. Most companies have mission-critical data loaded onto employee notebooks walking out the door on a daily basis. At the office, malicious hackers are constantly trying to find ways to break into the network to access that data, steal information or just wreak havoc. The IT manager needs to consider this, find the best security software, and constantly worry themselves about the safety and security of their co-workers. It's a tough job.

With the help of the right operating system, companies can be more prepared to confront the dangers of the Web and take on any issues that might arise. It won't be easy -- no operating system is absolutely secure -- but some are better than others.

And that's where Snow Leopard comes in. The upcoming release of Apple's latest operating system has Apple fans excited. The company promises big things for the operating system, including new features, 64-bit architecture, faster response times and even better security. Apple claims its latest operating system is not only more secure than Windows, its new features ensure users both on the consumer side and in the enterprise will be kept safe.

But is that true? Will Snow Leopard really provide the kind of secure experience that's expected of an operating system in the enterprise? Can it stand up to Microsoft and Windows 7?

Let's take a look.

Size matters

Apple and its supporters are quick to cite Microsoft's security problems. They say Microsoft has failed to provide the kind of security it should for both the enterprise and consumers. It's tough to argue with the logic. Windows has been impacted by a slew of security issues since its inception and many have turned into real problems for the enterprise. Undoubtedly, that would mean that the business world should stop using Windows and move to Mac OS X, right? Think again.

The truth is, we just don't know how secure Mac OS X really is. Malicious hackers and malware authors engage in their illegal activity for one reason - money. And if they want to make some money, the best way to go about it is targeting the operating system with the most users. Considering Windows easily eclipses every other operating system in the space, more attackers are targeting Windows than Mac OS X. It's simple economics. 

So, to say that Mac OS X is more secure is a bit of a red herring. It hasn't confronted real issues the way Windows has. And considering Apple was forced to update its operating system with 67 patches in May, it's not beyond the scope of reason to think there might be some issues behind the scenes that are having a real impact on Mac OS X.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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