Quick poll - Mac OS X security

Quick poll - Mac OS X security

Summary: There has been a lot of discussion here on Hardware 2.0, across ZDNet as a whole, and wider on the internet and social media lately, about how safe Mac OS X users are from malware and whether people think that platform will come under sustained attack from hackers.

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There has been a lot of discussion here on Hardware 2.0, across ZDNet as a whole, and wider on the internet and social media lately, about how safe Mac OS X users are from malware and whether people think that platform will come under sustained attack from hackers.

Time for a quick poll.

I'll start with an easy question ...

[poll id="624"]

Next, a bit of crystal ball gazing:

[poll id="625"]

Finally, onto the sensitive subject of protection:

[poll id="626"]

[poll id="627"]

Topics: Operating Systems, Apple, Hardware, Security, Software

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  • Same story different year

    Seriously, is this the tech blog writers meme of the month? Its getting old. There are a million reasons why OS/X will never be as vulnerable to attacks as Windows. Its not totally immune, but it is 99% better than Windows. All the fear mongering by the AV vendors and their tech blogger lackeys doesnt change the facts.
    cpuh0g
    • RE: Quick poll - Mac OS X security

      @cpuh0g ... In a way, I get your point. This drum has been beaten for some time now. But does the fact that it hasn't happened mean that it won't happen ... ?
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
      • But there have been several "its happened" in the past.

        @Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

        But the demographics of people that buy Macs are different and it limits lots of the petty stupid slight malicious software out there. Those are written by kids and 20 somethings living in moms basement with no real target or payload.

        Viruses, trojans and other male-ware were rife in the Mac OS prior to OS X but have been a very minor under current for the past 10 years. There but not really there.
        Bruizer
      • RE: Quick poll - Mac OS X security

        @Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
        Thats the very definition of fear mongering. Just because something has the remote possibility of ever happening, doesn't justify raising the alarm level like we've seen lately. These alarmist blog postings (and ZDNet is not the only one) should be balanced against the facts and not compared on equal footing because its not an apples-to-apples comparison.
        cpuh0g
      • RE: Thats the very definition of fear mongering.

        @cpuh0g

        Let me ask you this? Do you lock your car or protect it with an alarm because there is a remote possibility that it could be stolen. Do you do the same for your house and make sure it is locked and/or have some sort of security service? How about do you get a flu shot just in case you might get the flu?

        If you do (as most people do) then why wouldn't you take steps to protect your computer even if the chance is pretty slim at this point? I mean I use Windows and I know the signs of Malware and how it is typically installed on computers so the chances of a highly technical minded person like me getting infected is rather slim I would say. That doesn't mean I am a complete idiot and think that it could never happen so on top of good security practices I have Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware software installed on my computer and monitor and scan to make sure all is good.

        That is all these blogs about Mac Malware are truly about. You have to admit that many Mac Users think that MacOS is secure by design and it could never happen. The Apple commercials of the past did not help this attitude when it came to the average Jane and Joe consumer looking to buy a Mac. Many of them believed that Macs could not get infected by the statement direct from Apple that said Macs do not get PC viruses. The problem here is Jane and Joe think of any malware as a virus no matter what type it is. They make the false assumption that it cannot happen to them.
        bobiroc
      • RE: Quick poll - Mac OS X security

        @bobiroc
        I lock my car but dont use an alarm (everyone ignores those anyway). I dont get flu shots and so far I'm still here.

        On Windows, I use (and recommend) the MS security software and virus protection, I strongly believe their free solution is at least as good as any of the payware AV solutions. On OS/X, I don't believe there are any AV products that would actually be able to do anything of value. All of the news and stories seem to be promoted by the AV vendors themselves as a way to scare people into purchasing protection they dont need.

        For example, I don't have earthquake insurance for my house even though there is a really really really remote possibility that my area could be hit by one (I live thousands of miles from any faultlines or high activity areas).

        In my opinion, the OS/X AV product are snake oil and the possibility of actually being affected by a real OS/X virus/malware attack is miniscule at this point in time.
        cpuh0g
      • RE: Quick poll - Mac OS X security

        @cpuh0g

        [i]"I lock my car but dont use an alarm (everyone ignores those anyway). I dont get flu shots and so far I'm still here.[/i]

        Well first of all an alarm is more than the audio and while people may ignore them criminals don't. Most good alarms make it very difficult for the car to work which is the point. The audible alert is a moot point.

        As far as your beliefs go all I have to say to that is good protection is free. Maybe you are of a mindset different than the average computer user and know better and what to look for. I am that way too which is why I have not had an infection on my computer since the Win9x days. The problem is most end users are not that aware and may see a pop up saying they are infected and MacOS or not may say "Oh Crap" and click OK to continue and when they get that Admin Prompt they will think well I need to stop the infection and not realizing they are causing it.

        The same goes for other popular methods of attacks. In fact some attacks are not even aimed at the computer itself anymore. Facebook should be proof of that with all the social engineering attacks that go on there daily. People want to know who their profile stalkers are and they want to see that video of some awful act that Justin Bieber allegedly did and they click away like a bunch of cracked out monkeys.

        If we take anything from these alarming blogs it is to do our duty as tech minded people and help inform the sheep of the computing world. At least that is what I try to do.
        bobiroc
      • RE: Quick poll - Mac OS X security

        @Adrian Kingsley-Hughes I think what you all at ZDNet aren't getting is the solution to this isn't technical.

        Here's the thing, imagine a computer that couldn't get Malware - got it? OK.

        Now, can you get the machine to send email programatically? (No) Isn't it useful sometimes to get a machine to send email programatically?

        OK, another example, can you install software on it, from sources outside the vender's control? (No) Isn't that something you might want to do?

        Can you get the system to accept keyboard entry or generate keyboard events from something other than a keyboard? (No) So if you have a need to use an input method other than a keyboard you're out of luck?

        A computer that CANNOT get Malware isn't very useful, remember malware is only software that does something that the user didn't intend. You can't really "test" for malware as such. On Windows there are plenty of programs that have a legitimate reason to modify the registry. On Mac there are plenty of programs that modify system configuration files.

        The "AntiVirus" kind of product are always reactive, they do sometimes try and identify malware based on it's actions, but this is fraught with difficulties. I also personally believe that the negative effects of "false positives" are not to be overlooked, and such things are all too common.

        In short, "AntiVirus" isn't the answer. We've been down this road on the PC, it doesn't work.

        What IS the answer? Well a combination of good security UI (so the user understand what they are being asked, and just as important the UI isn't overly "chatty", like Vista was) and end user awareness.

        So, no "AntiVirus" on the Mac is fairly useless. Better to keep the system "patched up", change one or two of the Mac defaults (switch off "open safe files" - which is amazingly in "General" rather than "Security" in Safari). As well as really "think" before downloading programs and allowing them to run (especially, but not only, with admin permission).

        But really, repeating the same mistakes of Windows and relying on "AntiVirus" isn't going to help anyone (except the people selling the "AntiVirus" software).
        jeremychappell
      • RE: Quick poll - Mac OS X security

        @Bruizer "Viruses, trojans and other male-ware were rife in the Mac OS prior to OS X"

        What? What pile of crap did you pull this from?

        At NO time in it's history was any Mac OS "rife" with anything resembling Viruses, trojans or malware. There were maybe 50 "viruses" for Mac OS 8, the majority of which stopped working under OS 9.
        His_Shadow
      • Message has been deleted.

        His_Shadow
      • @Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

        [i]This drum has been beaten for some time now. But does the fact that it hasn't happened mean that it won't happen ... ?[/i]

        The fact that I haven't been struck by lightning doesn't mean it will, wither...
        ScorpioBlue
      • Message has been deleted.

        ScorpioBlue
      • RE: Quick poll - Mac OS X security

        @Adrian Kingsley-Hughes ---Just consider the phrasing of the questions in the "poll." Consider your response. This absolutism i.e., "it won't happen," "is OS X IMMUNE to malware," is an example of why this subject is "ad nauseum."

        Will somebody ever write a successful virus for OS X? Yes. Is the knowledge BAR to do this significantly higher than to write one for Win OS? Yes. Is it likely that viruses will become a concern for Mac OS X users like it is for Windows users? Not for the foreseeable future.


        If there are 500,000+ known Windows viruses in the wild and 0 for Mac OS X, it is not significant if the Mac OS is IMMUNE, it needs to be "resistant" to infection. It is. And it is more so then Windows, its rival for mainstream operating systems. This discrepancy is not due to market share (OS X market share is far greater than OS 9's ever was: there are 0 OS X viruses vs 35,000+ OS 9 viruses), not "economics" (Mac users more affluent than Windows users with a 66% market share of computers over $1000,) or some mythical lack of interest of virus writers. It is because the bar to entry is SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER for Mac OS X. We could certainly get into the technical reasons why this is true, but why? If one can not accept that 500,000+ known wild viruses for Windows as opposed to 0 known Mac OS X viruses is evidence of the superior malware resistance of the Mac, no other facts will suffice either.
        OracleOfReason
      • RE: Quick poll - Mac OS X security

        @His_Shadow<br>Your feigned anger is a bit out of place. And not particularly accurate.<br>First, you confuse the issues of "rife" with total quantity. While the total number relative to Windows was low, the total number relative to the install base, and the frequency of infection was arguably enough to justify the term rife. Certainly in my experience as a user consultant, infections happened with a high enough frequency to use the term (though still nowhere near the rate of the other OS).<br><br>But their existence prior to OSX, when macOS had even lower market share DOES disprove the fundamental logic of the security by obscurity myth.
        DeusXMachina
      • re: RE: Thats the very definition of fear mongering.

        @bobiroc

        [i]Do you lock your car or protect it with an alarm because there is a remote possibility that it could be stolen. Do you do the same for your house...?[/i]

        Let me ask you something. Have you ever seen a home improvement site full of piece after piece about what remote possibility might happen if you don't lock your hose door? Then why is ZDNet doing it??

        The other poster is right. This blog is fear mongering. Bott's blog is "The Year of Macs Getting Owned" like other blogs are "The Year of Linux."





        :)
        none none
      • RE: Quick poll - Mac OS X security

        @His_Shadow The "number" of viruses isn't the issue, it is the number of times it crops up. I agree there weren't a huge number of different viruses. However the simple truth was this: you'd send artwork to a print house on a SyQuest disk, when (OK, if) you got the SyQuest back it usually had some kind of (Mac) virus on it.

        And yes it was the same few all the time.

        This is first hand experience of System 6 & 7. On the Mac virus infections were usually passed from disk to disk (not via the Internet). With Mac OS X there has never been malware with significant traction (though there have been some pretty pitiful attempts).
        jeremychappell
      • RE: Quick poll - Mac OS X security

        @Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

        You are not dead yet, but that doesn't mean you won't be some day.

        You see how your logic looks in the mirror?
        Return_of_the_jedi
      • Same old same old is right.

        @Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
        While the avid Mac user will typically say they don't believe OSX is not invulnerable their actions speak louder then words. They say that only because they realize its the only sane thing to say thats acceptable. On the other hand, when you actually try and pin them down, and ask how are they not vulnerable or what is it they are doing to prevent that possibilities of an infection they say "nothing" because in their true heart of hearts they are convinced they are as good as invulnerable.

        Even the excuse that "the demographics of people that buy Macs are different and it limits lots of the petty stupid slight malicious software out there" doesn't address the flipside of the situation where many Mac users are continuously crowing that more people are buying Macs then ever, that Apple is gaining market share. If this is true it wont be long before many newer and less experienced Mac users will be on the next slowly but surely changing that demographic and potentially enlarging the window of opportunity for hackers to get a foot, or both feet into the Mac community and increasing the risk generally for the Mac community where so many users have no protection.

        The truth is that large numbers of Mac users simply refuse to believe there is any real risk of getting infected no matter what they may otherwise say.

        Many users purchased a Mac because they were sold a bill of goods where they were told the potential for infection was so remote that it bordered on non existent. Perhaps the sales people are getting away with that because the current potential is so low. But, a year or two from now it would be just a poorly reasoned guess to say that the risk of getting a Mac infected is infinitesimally low. Nobody is ever told that, they are just lead to believe the current state of affairs will continue on forever, and yet the same Mac users will claim that Apples share in the computer market will increase.

        The fact is that pretty much all those who have some knowledge in the field say the same thing, and that is if a kind of computer, any kind of computer gets enough units on the net to be an inviting target of interest there are those out there who will begin to target it, no matter what the difficulties. There is no good logic in the thought, "Macs market share will increase but I don't believe that Macs risk of infection will increase to any point where I have to worry about it or install an AV system".
        Cayble
      • Present the record&acirc;??let users decide

        @Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

        It needs to be said, that regardless whether Macs are vulnerable (they most certainly are), a choice made for the platform 10 years ago will have yielded 10 years of what amounts to malware-free computing. Cite the reason you're most comfortable with. Mac users won. PC users lost. It's a matter of record. What would that ten years of grief-free use have been worth to you? Not as a computer repairman mind you, but as a user. We all know the other answer.

        You had been in the forefront of sabre rattling regarding the imminent influx of Mac malware. You needed to be gifted a MacBook by Apple themselves to be lifted out of your fog over the modern Mac platform. The worm is turning and it's a lot harder to hate macs when you use one, and hate Mac users when you are one... but it's also true that your career depends on the platform that provides you with the most broken machines. The drum has been beaten by you. It still is being beaten by you.

        Both you and Ed Bott have to come to grips with the fact that a more diverse ecosystem of computing helps everyone. It provides market competition, and incentive for vendors to protect users and compete on this basis. It also presents more targets and more work for malware creators. Everyone wins. Everyone except computer repairmen.

        Note that this is not about whether Macs are vulnerable. Of course they are. This is about who do we trust to tell us this. It's not Ed Bott. It's not you.
        norgate
      • RE: Quick poll - Mac OS X security

        @Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

        I wholeheartedly agree. The technical details of why OSX may be more secure is besides the point. The real driving factor is that Apple is enjoying more and more success in the market place. More user = more opportunity.

        Also, the user base of Apple is a big problem. There is a simple mindedness to a tremendous amount of the user base. Come on folks, it is a PC just like a Windows machine. You still have to take care of it. Case in point: I was at a Genius Bar trying to get my daughter's iPod updated, and the woman next to me (who ran her home business from her MacBook), had a hard drive crash. The Genius asked if she had backed it up. She replied, and I kid you not, "Why do I need to back it up? It's a Mac not a PC!"
        Diver John