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For six years, the Internet Nexus served as my technology blog, but I've since started blogging at the SuperSite Blog instead. If you're looking for the blog, please head there. --Paul

Saturday, April 21, 2007

About that recent Mac hack

Most Apple fans and many technology followers are no doubt aware that a hacker recently broke into a Mac, won a $10,000 prize for doing so, and in the words of IDG News headline writers, "crushed the myth" that Apple's Mac are more secure than PCs. I'd like to comment on this event, and on Mac security.

Macs are more secure than PCs. Obviously.

Many would argue that this has a lot to do with the Mac's low market share. I believe that's part of it. But it's not all of it. Mac OS X is also based on one of the more secure and well-respected UNIX variants. On the flip side, I don't feel that Apple is particularly good at responding quickly to security vulnerabilities, but then its systems are hacked so infrequently, it's never needed to be. Microsoft, by contrast, has been bitten so much, and so hard, that's it's been backed into a corner. The company is very, very good at responding to security threats now.

Macs are more secure than PCs for the same reasons that Firefox is more secure than IE. There are fewer users. The companies that make these products are better respected by hackers and are less often targeted as a result. And Macs, like Firefox, aren't full of buggy, insecure legacy code (ActiveX, anyone?) that Microsoft must keep floating around to quiet complaints from its biggest customers.

All this said, the only time I've ever had a major security issue on any of my PCs was when I turned off XP SP2's firewall during beta testing. It's not hard to secure a PC. But you do have to secure a PC. I don't secure my Macs. But I don't have to secure my Macs. There's something to be said for that.

Anyway, I just felt this needed to be said. There are plenty of good reasons to use a PC, and certainly Windows Vista fixes a lot of problems. But Macs are more secure than PCs. Obviously.

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[ Posted at 8:45 PM | Permalink ]


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