Experts: OS X still safe but ‘does it matter?’

Between the Month of Apple Bugs, the ‘Hacking a MacBook in 60 seconds’ controversy and Bill Gates’ Newsweek interview where he claimed “security guys break the Mac every single day,” one could be forgiven for thinking that maybe Macs are insecure and unsafe.

But InformationWeek’s Sharon Gaudin interviewed a number of security experts and all agree that although discovery of vulnerabilities in the Macintosh platform increased in the past three years, “it doesn’t mean the Mac suddenly has become a risky operating system.”

One of the reasons behind the all the recent focus on security is simply a reaction to bravado from Apple and its users. Craig Schmugar, a threat researcher at McAfee, says “Apple enthusiasts are always touting their security, challenging researchers to look for bugs there … They seem to be bragging a little more than they should.”

But he also notes that “Vulnerabilities just don’t equal attacks. Some people are saying the Mac is less secure than Windows because there have been more vulnerabilities in it than in Windows, but there are far fewer attacks reported on Mac OS X than Windows.”

The article is chock-full of juicy quotes you can use the next time someone tries to argue that the Mac platform is anywhere near as dangerous as Windows (but heed Schmugar’s advice, don’t brag any more than you should):

Johannes Ullrich, chief research officer at the SANS Institute and CTO for the Internet Storm Center: “It’s still safer, but not as safe as Apple pretends it is. Some features, like the firewall, aren’t all that great. But, yes, it’s still pretty safe.”

Paul Henry, VP of Secure Computing: “I still think the Mac is safer than Windows. It has a reduced threat environment. If over the next year, the Mac gains 50% market share, it would become a much more attractive target, but it’s not going to happen. It just won’t grow that quickly.”

But Gaudin’s coworker Mitch Wagner asks Does It Matter? noting that “it’s doubtful that’ll change anybody’s buying decisions — Windows users know that their software has security problems, and yet they use it anyway.”

Since he’s never heard anybody say they bought a Mac because it’s more secure, he wants to hear from Mac users about what the reason was behind their choice.

Despite Vulnerabilities, Apple’s Mac OS X Weathers The Security Storm
Does It Matter?


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