Outrage at Symantec's OS X claims

Talkback: Symantec's claim that Apple's OS X will soon attract more attention from hackers has been dismissed as nonsense, and worse
Written by Dan Ilett, Contributor on

Symantec has sparked outrage by claiming on Monday that the operating system OS X was set to come under increased hacking and malware attacks.

In its Internet Security Threat Report, Symantec said that Apple's userbase was more likely to come under attack, citing Apple's growing market share and the 37 vulnerabilities that were found in OS X last year — a trend it hinted would continue.

But ZDNet UK readers have rebutted Symantec's claims in a series of angry responses, saying the security company was using marketing tactics of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) to fuel its sales.

"What a load of FUD," said one anonymous IT manager. "Anyone with the smallest sense of knowledge about any of these operating systems knows that the biggest issue with Windows security is the basic design flaws that it keeps dragging on from its past eras, to ensure compatibility."

Another furious reader, an anonymous editor, argued that OS X was already a secure operating system.

"Total nonsense," he said. "Yes, of course, as OS X grows market share it will come under more attack. It hardly takes a rocket scientist to see that. But any idiot can see that an OS which requires [a] root password before installing any software is inherently going to stop more viruses than an OS like Windows which doesn't. Grow up and quit whining."

Analyst group Frost & Sullivan and security company Trend Micro both agreed with Symantec's argument that OSX will become a more tempting target to hackers as its market share increases. But Laird Popkin, a chief technical officer, accuses ZDNet of supporting scare tactics by reporting these views.

"[I]t's somewhat pathetic that ZDNet bothered to 'print' this 'story' since it's clearly self-serving fearmongering [sic] from Symantec," wrote Popkin. "If they were journalists rather than a marketing channel, they'd put this FUD in context."

But Symantec insists its claims are valid. In an emailed response, a Symantec spokesperson wrote: "We've found that one of the recent emerging security concerns is around Mac OS X. No Internet user, regardless of which operating system they use, is 100 percent immune from attack. People should not be scared, but they should make sure they are secure."

Apple, though, did not respond to requests for comment.

Symantec's made its controversial comments in its Internet Security Threat Report, which was released yesterday.

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