Macs Safer, Less Secure?A recent switcher and user group member recently asked me if he should install some kind of security software on his new MacBook. I held off on my answer until I read about the Pwn2Own contest, part of the CanSecWest digital security conference held in March in Vancouver. Contestants chose a platform, Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and most smartphones, and demonstrated a winning attack. Charlie Miller, a security expert, won $5,000 and a MacBook. AppleInsider found an interview of Miller and beautifully summarized the facts.
Although Miller may have succeeded with his attack on Mac OS X “in seconds,” he explained that he had prepared his attack for “many days” beforehand. He also still says that Macs are safer than PCs, noting that although, starting with Vista, Microsoft reinforced Windows so much that Mac OS X now looks a bit retarded on the security level but, fortunately, this security gap should be resolved with the release of Snow Leopard this summer! Phew.
Miller believes that it is not worth the trouble to try to crack a less secure Mac since there are so many more PCs around and because Mac users have a very high level of adoption of the latest technology. Nor does Miller believe that any security solution on the market offers more safety to Mac users than what they already have when they keep their machine up-to-date. This report was the best answer I could give my friend so I have shared it with him.
In the end, the difference between using a Mac instead of a PC on the security level is a bit like driving a fun convertible in a pleasant and safe region instead of a clunky armored vehicle negotiating roadblocks in a guerilla-torn country. OK, I’m partial. But if you are spending too much time maintaining your PC, it is time to switch. ya
TransMUG is a Macintosh user group for translators which meets before the NCTA General Meeting. Membership is obtained by subscribing to the mailing list. YA