March 4, 2006
The Fool's Paradise at Apple
I'M A MAC USER and, unless the world ends, I always will be. Since switching to Macs over five years ago I've probably saved months of my life in not having to dick around with Windows issues on a daily basis. I've saved years of time helping my friends dick around with their Windows issues by saying, "Sorry, I don't do Windows."
It is a surprisingly calm and virus/worm/spyware free existence running a Mac. You really never have to so much as think about it. But therein lies the hidden flaw, of course, and since nature always sides with the hidden flaw, it is wise to still stay on your guard.
That's why I tire of the standard Applesque blather when it comes to security problems. The most recent is this emission from a "security expert" just after Apple released an OSX security update with 20 patches.
But, in general, according to Thomas Kristensen, chief technology officer at security firm Secunia, it is unlikely there will be a deluge of viruses targeting the Mac.
"Malware writers love to reach as many people as possible," he said. "They don't want to spend their time creating a virus that targets 1 or 2 percent of users. They prefer Windows, which represents 97 percent of users." -- Apple Patches Mac OS X Security Flaws
Really? Let's look at that logic. Malware slime, as we all know, is generally not in it for the money but for the attention. With every pimply Malware writer working overtime on subverting Windows that leaves the field pretty crowded. How long will it take for one of these people to get the bright idea that by screwing up Windows he's just another slob, but by putting the worm in the Apple he's making history?
So keep an eye on those email attachments .... even if you do own a Mac. We're bound to get a winner someday.
Posted by Vanderleun at March 4, 2006 7:52 PM
The "Security through Obscurity" plan is loser. Although, I can understand the rationale. I drive a Saab, and NOBODY is going to know how to hot wire that baby...a crook would have to practically take the seat out to get to the ignition wires, if the little thug could even find the damn key switch. And there's no huge market for parts like Honda or Toyota.
Honestly, I'm surprised some lowlife hasn't written a "successfull" Mac virus yet. I haven't had any real problems using PC's for he last 15 years. Virus checks are done while I sleep and I don't open attachments from unknown senders.
The only problems I have had are defective hard drives.
Most of the applications I use do not have a satisfactory Mac counterpart except for Photoshop or Office. The iPod works just fine on Windows.
(SHRUG) What ever works for the individual user is fine with me...I just get a little wrankled by Mac users who think they're cool simply because they use Macs. If your self-image is dependant upon the computing platform you use, well, God bless ya, Skippy.
I've been a Mac user since 1990, but I don't think I'm cooler or feel superior because of that. It was just an accident of fate; the employer who hired me at that time had a Mac, and that was my first real exposure to computers.
In 1994 I bought my first home computer: a 486 PC from Gateway. I had never used a Windows computer before. I bought it because since Windows was the dominant platform, I figured I'd better learn something about it. It was a good computer; I had a generally positive experience with it. A few years later I even installed Linux on it, but I never was able to get it to work properly.
But all the while, I used Macs at work and I just liked them better. Nowadays we have both Mac and Windows machines at work, and I find Windows generally more annoying and frustrating to use.
In 2004 I bought my second home computer. This time I had more money to spend and the choice was a no-brainer: I bought a G5. I haven't regretted it.
Having said all that, I have NEVER been complacent about viruses on the Mac. I've always known that the lack of viruses was mainly due to Apple's small market share and that it was only a matter of time before they appeared.
I keep my anti-virus software up to date and take the usual precautions about not opening attachments from strangers. And even on my home computer, I set up an administrator account and a user account, both protected by pretty good passwords. I seldom use the administrator account. I use it mostly to install or upgrade software. When I go online, I always use the user account.
There's an old joke my advisor told me about the differences between Linux, Mac, and Windows users:
"Using an operating system is like air travel, but their are differences:
- Linux users gather at the airport with a piece of the plane and build it before take-off.
- Mac users are blindfolded before boarding. This blindfold doesn't come off until they arrive at their destination. They have no idea how they got there and most of them don't want to know.
- Windows users get on the plane; the plane takes off; it reaches cruising altitude of 30,000 feet; then, for some reason, it explodes."
I switched to Linux (the SuSE flavor) about nine months ago and now use it almost exclusively at home. I've never really liked Macs myself, but I can understand that many people would love them for their simplicity. Until I switched to Linux, I never realized just how much time I spent fighting with Windows. It just become natural for the printer to bug out.
Of course any problems that I or my brother have with Windows are multiplied by about a hundred with my mother. It's useless to explain to her that sometimes Windows just bugs out, and invariably I get called to do tech support.
Now that her most recent windows machine has died, I'm going to not so subtley suggest to her that she ought to buy a Mac. For her needs, it will suit her fine.
There have been multiple viruses on the Mac since the computer's creation. But multiple is in the tens as opposed to in the thousands.
And I will tell you, also, that there is a small elite community of Mac virus knights (That is not what they call themselves, but it's a good analogy.) who sit around watching for the next attack.
I don't think that they will be able to stop attacks before they start, but they are amazingly gifted in what they do. (Disclaimer: My husband used to be one of these guys.)
And my husband, too, avoids mulitple problems, including having to hang out at my parents' house, by saying, "I don't do Windows."
That is hilarious. I'll be telling that joke to everyone I meet for the next few days.