Ignorance Is Bliss

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2009-08-06 Print this article Print

Ignorance Is Bliss

When I discuss Mac OS X with people outside of the tech industry, the most common comment I hear is that Apple's OS is safer than Windows. They claim that "Macs don't have any virus or spyware issues." It's gotten so bad that a local computer store owner recently told me that if I'm looking to stay secure, I need to get rid of Windows and stick to a Mac.

I find those sentiments dangerous. Although I realize that Mac OS X has historically been more "secure," Apple's 18 security fixes tell a different story: Mac users are just as susceptible to security issues as Windows users.

But how did it get to such a point where people believe the rhetoric? Undoubtedly, it has stemmed from Apple.

Right now, on Apple's site, a security page offers a warning to potential Mac owners: "The Mac is designed with built-in technologies that provide protection against malicious software and security threats right out of the box. However, since no system can be 100 percent immune from every threat, antivirus software may offer additional protection."

I find that alarming. "Antivirus software may offer additional protection"? That doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement. In fact, it almost sounds like users won't even need it to stay secure. Contrast that with Microsoft's Security Essentials pack, its insistence on users changing habits and its support of users employing third-party security software, and it displays just how far ahead Microsoft is in recognizing security threats that impact us all.

Looking Ahead

But what about Mac OS X Snow Leopard? Will Apple make security a key component in its marketing strategy going forward? It's doubtful. That quote from Apple's security page? Yeah, that was featured on the company's Snow Leopard security page.


Snow Leopard will be Apple's most-tested operating system to date. With an increase in users and the belief on the part of hackers that Mac users ignore security problems, it could be a hotbed for hacker activity going forward. If that happens and Apple's security woes only get worse, what will it take for the company to finally wake up and realize that the myth of Apple's iron-tight security can't be believed?

Let's hope it's not a major security outbreak.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, 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 http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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