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Will Apple's new ad attract the wrong kind of attention?


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May 03, 2006

Will Apple's new ad attract the wrong kind of attention?

Peter Burrows

Despite what many Mac fans believe, there's nothing inherently virus-proof about the Mac. Rather, a main reason for the near absense of malware on the Mac has been that hackers simply haven't focused as much on the plaform as they have on Windows. As such, Apple has historically resisted the temptation to play its security card too aggressively in its marketing activities.

Until now, that is. In one of its new ads, the company clearly states what many Mac owners know is true: that the Mac is for all intents and purposes virus-free.

Now, I realize that the hacker community isn't exactly the sweet spot of BusinessWeek's demographic (despite Arik's excellent coverage of security, and particularly, Mac security). Still, I want to throw the question out there: if you're a hacker, have ever had the urge to hack, or just want to weigh in, do you think the new Apple ad will serve as a clarion call to folks with ill intentions? Clearly, threats to the Mac seem to be on the rise already, given Apple's recent success. But is Apple painting a bulls-eye on itself, giving such folks even more incentive to find some headline-grabbing, resume-padding problem for Mac users?

02:02 PM

Byte of the Apple survey

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maybe hackers focus on the Pc because it’s easier - like tourists who wear shorts and have 42k worth of gear strapped around their heads … I could try and rob a 2nd Lt in Army Ranger gear but only a true, true idiot would try that, right?

I have been using the mac since 1987 – in TWENTY YEARS on one computer system, I have had ONE virus – in 1987, I got the word virus – what did that do? It messed up the header info so I had copy all my words and paste into a new doc – wow, how slightly inconvenient … when was the last time Windows had a even a one-virus warning day? I see the reports everyday.

hackers look over the mac, probe it and give up.

why try and rob an Army Ranger guy when the fat tourist is over there asleep with his bag on the ground and his camcorder by his side?

Posted by: jbelkin at May 3, 2006 07:59 PM

"Despite what many Mac fans believe, there's nothing inherently virus-proof about the Mac."

There sure is Peter despite what feeble "proof" you think you have and frankly I don't know what kind of hack FUD writer would make such a statement who had any real facts at his disposal. What is wrong with you guys who write such blatantly false FUDdy blogs? Sure virus's are POSSIBLE but it hasn't happened yet and there are more safeguards in place in OS X by far than the never-been-ready-for-prime-time security swiss-cheesy Windows XP. 114,000 viruses on XP, 0 on Mac.

Talk to me after the 10th REAL virus attack on OS X has been perpetrated.

Posted by: PaulG at May 3, 2006 09:17 PM

I suspect there are three big reasons the Mac is lacking in viruses:

(1) People who own Macs are very loyal and aren't interested in hurting their beloved platform. It takes money to buy a Mac, and I think that barrier to entry blocks many immature people who are keen on ruining other people's days.

(2) There are, of course, many fewer Macs than PCs, and that limits both the revenue potential and the publicity benefit, such as it is, from producing a Mac virus.

(3) It is indeed much harder to crack. Many people who write virii for PCs take existing code and modify it; you have to be a genuine pioneer to do that with a Mac. That means huge amounts of extra effort.

D

Posted by: David H Dennis at May 3, 2006 09:51 PM

Mac fans have been bragging about the inherent superior security model of their unix underpinnings for years. Yet, still there is still essentially no malware for the mac, why?

Perhaps the simplest reason is that inorder to write a mac virus, wouldn't one need a mac to test it on? Perhaps hackers are too cheap to buy the mac in order to write and test their viruses.

Regards

Joe

Posted by: Joe Dokes at May 3, 2006 10:51 PM

Also, we can't forget "non-virus" things like spyware/adware, etc. Oftentimes on a Windows PC, these items are installed without user consent. On a Mac, one security feature is the requirement of a admin password to install software - seems simple, but that one act of user intervention can prevent almost all ad-ware attacks.

Posted by: Will Kuhn at May 4, 2006 12:42 PM

I have been a PC user since the beginning, though for a brief period in High School i used a mac and liked it simply for the fact that blizzard made nice games for it. Not to mention Marathon which was loads of fun back then. Soon as i got out though and i returned to my faithful well game supplied PC. I really dont understand how people are getting viruses on PC's. The only virus ive gotten is that blaster worm and thats been about it.

Its not that i surf in any safe way or anything, i go to warez, torrent, and p2p. I think the bulk of people who get virus's are the "Aol using, sears computer buying, ohh a popup said i have a virus lets click on it" kinda people. Who really cares about those guys anyways.

But to the main point, this was a dangerous idea for apple. Its one thing for individual users to boast. If you tick off a hacker they mess with you and its over. But with them claiming all users are virus proof, they are really setting themselves up for a major attack.

Posted by: Eric at June 8, 2006 11:28 PM


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