What Do You Mean, My Mac is Vulnerable?

A few days ago Symantec released a report indicating that yes, Virginia, there are security issues with Macintoshes. 

Of course, anybody who knows anything about security could have told you this, and many of them did. For some time now, in fact.

However, judging by the reactions from the Macintosh community and open-source supporters worldwide, you would have thought that someone climbed on top of St. Peter’s Basilica and started shouting that the Pope had no clothes on. Apparently, it’s news to people that Macintoshes are somehow (gasp!) not perfect. That they are not immune to viruses, worms, phishing attacks, and other malware that causes headaches for computer users around the world who own "that other operating system." In fact, Symantec indicated that they had found and documented 37 – yes, thirty seven – security flaws in Mac OS X just in the last year.

Here’s what a Gartner analyst had to say on the issue:

“All these platforms have vulnerabilities – it’s a fact of life,” said Gartner analyst Martin Reynolds. “The truth of the matter is that Mac is only a couple percentage points of (computer) shipments so it’s not an interesting target.”

Some people openly questioned Symantec’s motives, opining that, since Microsoft is now moving into their anti-virus turf, they have to invent new scares in order to get people to buy their products. This is pure nonsense. Symantec has a strong brand among computer users for their anti-virus and anti-spam products, and Microsoft isn’t even shipping their competitive wares yet. Symantec does not need to stoop to these tactics in order to sell product.

It’s been my opinion all along that Mac and Linux users need to wipe their smug little smiles off their faces, and soon, because if they get their respective wishes that their platforms become more widespread, then hackers will just start targeting them as well. The notion that Mac and Linux are somehow inherently more secure than any other OS is just bunk. Think about it for a second with some actual logic – there’s a reason why people choose to live in small towns for security. It’s because criminals pick targets where they know they can attack anonymously and fade into the crowd. Why should it be any different with computers?

Even if you could make the argument that Macs were somehow more secure, it wouldn’t matter – hackers would just find other ways to compromise systems. They always have, and they always will. That’s just the nature of the beast.

I predict, however, that this message will go largely unheeded by the Mac crowd until their platform suffers a major attack, at which point everyone will be stumbling around wondering what happened and why nobody told them that such a thing was possible. Some things just never change.

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