Reading The Tea Leaves To Figure Out Security Risks For Mac And Linux

from the just-wondering... dept

For years, every time we run a story about some virus or spyware related story, someone has to pop up in the comments acting as if they’re brilliant saying “just get a Mac” or “just get Linux” as if that solves everyone’s problems. The reality, of course, is that many people are unable to do so. However, with stories of Mac and Linux worms on the loose, there’s suddenly a discussion about how unprepared those platforms might be. This may not be true. Both of the worms weren’t particularly dangerous (if at all), and mostly got hype because such things are so rare. Which brings up one of the biggest myths we keep hearing about Mac and Linux security: that there are no security attacks because the market is so small. Considering just how high profile it is when any weak attack shows up, you’d think that the prestige factor alone would have more than compensated for the smaller market size ages ago. So, while the “just use a blank” crowd may get annoying — they may have a point. As if to underscore this, it’s worth noting that we don’t hear the various security firms hyping up just how important it is for you to get their latest Mac/Linux offerings. There are security/antivirus type offerings for both, but instead, the stories those firms are pushing are all about mobile security — where viruses remain just about as risky as those found on Mac and Linux boxes. And, we already know how willing the various security firms are to hype up products over fears that may not really be there. So, if even the itchy trigger finger security firms don’t seem to be talking up the threat of security threats on the Mac and Linux platforms… perhaps even they realize the likely risk just isn’t that big. Either that, or maybe we spoke too soon, and the security firms will seize on this opportunity to promote new products. Update: And… just like that we get stories of a new zero-day exploit hitting OS X.

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Comments on “Reading The Tea Leaves To Figure Out Security Risks For Mac And Linux”

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Anonymous Coward says:

I don't intirely agree.

I don’t think the security firms aren’t hyping up security threats for Linux and Mac because they don’t think they’re risky enough, i think they’re too busy hyping up the threats to mobile security, because it’s a much larger market.

So i consider your sugestion, that the vulnerabilities on Linux and Mac are less risky, to be poorly argumented.

B. Pierce (user link) says:

Re: true, but

not insightful at all. Give reasons. For media usage, windows is not appropriate. For profesional uses mac is better multiple times over. Windows is good for families due to its vast educational software and other family oriented software. If apple advertised its computers as much as Microsoft does to windows then i think people would be more aware and try to become educated into choosing a mac.

Funky Dogg says:

Re: 12 years of Linux

I have a linux web server and desktop, now 6 years old, absolutely no viruses, spyware or malware. Just got AVG (free) antivirus for linux, ran a scan and NO VIRUSES.

My Windows PC in the time of 6 years has been reinstalled over 10 times due to crap.

My mac, same no viruses or crap.

I think the saying “Just Get a Mac” or “Just get Linux” is legitimate and not just out of someones ass.

I am another proof to you.


I’ve been using Linux for 12 years now
without any antivirus software
and without any malware problems.
For me the proof is in the pudding.

Zealot says:

Re: Re: Spellcheck


Evidently Google Toolbar cannot make your posts more intelligent, or even help with grammar. Try proper capitalization and use of parenthesis:

“Yes, I did spellcheck this time with Google Toolbar, so fuck off.”

Or the proper use of possessives:

“[…] out of someone’s ass.” (Notice the apostrophe)

The line “My Windows PC in the time of 6 years has been reinstalled over 10 times due to crap” is particularly telling when paired with “Just got AVG (free) antivirus for linux” – one must be particularly intelligent for using one of the most virus-infested platforms without a virus scanner.

Or, if you did have a virus scanner for Windows, where did the “crap” come from? I’ve ran an Windows XP system for 3 years now. The only crashes I’ve ever experienced have been with buggy drivers from Realtek (solved after replacing onboard Audio with a real sound card), beta versions of nVidia drivers, or some stupid off-by-one pointer error in programming (which Visual Studio keeps from crashing the system anyway.)

A Windows box, especially an XP box, is easy to maintain. Just make sure you have a virus scanner (AVG Free at, a firewall (ZoneAlarm at and maybe even some anti-spyware (Windows Defender at They are all FREE (as in beer) and, even if you try, it is almost impossible to destroy your system with these programs properly set up and running.

“I am another proof to you.”

Yes. Yes, you are.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: what operating system is before for me?

i surf the web across message boards and access email using Gmail. I also write Microsoft word and Microsoft excel documents.

there is nothing more that I use the PC for.

the cost was less than $600 shipped from dell with windows XP reinstalled.

what operating system is before for me?

i can already do everything that I use my computer for – should i get a different operating system just to be “safe” or can I continue to do the things the way i have been doing them for the past 4 years now.

note: I have never had a single problem with my computer crashing or needing windows to be installed. nor have i ever installed any professional production software other than genuine Microsoft or other items legitamently purchased through major a retailer.

please suggest an operating system that would allow me to be much more productive and could create more time for me. i am quite computer literate, but my problem is that i prefer to NOT monkey around with computers as much as i possibly have to.

thank you in advance for any advice you can provide.

emichan says:

Re: Re: Re: Spellcheck

๐Ÿ˜› this is a MESSAGE BOARD, not a school paper! who CARES how badly people spell, or how bad their grammar is as long as they’re able to be understood! it seems like attacking someone’s spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc. is just a way to AVOID having to actually evaluate his or her argument. ๐Ÿ˜›

WATYF (user link) says:

Re: Do what's best for you

>Use the platform that you want, if you can. Pay
>attention to the state of security for your
>platform, remain educated about issues that may
>compromise your platform.
>Be an educated user, the platform will become

That’s the gospel truth if I ever heard it.

>I’ve been using Linux for 12 years now
>without any antivirus software
>and without any malware problems.
>For me the proof is in the pudding.

I’ve been using Windows since it was created. I use no anti-virus software whatsoever, and I never catch any viruses (despite being online all the time). I’ve run systems out of my home that host servers (web/game/ftp/etc) and are on 24/7, without any crashes or needs for reboots.

Using a good firewall and not being an idiot are all you need to protect yourself. Building/Configuring your system properly and not installing crap is all you need to have a rock-solid, stable machine. The “proof” is in knowing what the hell you’re doing (and most importantly, knowing what the hell NOT to do). Like Jimmy said… use whatever works best for you, so long as you’re an educated user…

…there is no “better” platform, there are just “better” users.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Do what's best for you

Use the platform that you want, if you can. Pay attention to the state of security for your platform, remain educated about issues that may compromise your platform.
Be an educated user, the platform will become irrelevant.

Absolutely. Use what you need, and keep it patched and secure.
For the record, I run Linux on my laptop, but because I’m usually on a public network, I have both a firewall (configured via Guarddog) and an anti-virus program (KlamAV) running at all times, AND I keep up with security patches. Weak security practices increase the risk of getting hacked / infected, regardless of your OS.

Steve says:

No Subject Given

While its obvious that there arent security firms targetting Linux flaws, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. Just subscribe to any of the security advisory feeds and you’ll see that there are exploits and flaws that are released daily for all kinds of Linux software. The simple solution? Just patch your systems.

I dont think there ever really will be a market for fixing Linux flaws because it just takes care of itself naturally (people fix it, and distribute fixes quickly).

Brandon Zylstra says:

get a clue (and maybe a Mac, while you're at it!)

It may not be brilliant to say “just get a Mac” (or a Linux box) but it’s foolish not to consider doing so. So many people blindly act as if Windows is all that exists, and bemoan all the “computer viruses” which in fact are (with rare exception) *Windows* viruses.
For the record, I use all three platforms, and recommend that anyone use the one that best fits their needs. (And this doesn’t mean they have to choose a single platform, any more than a carpenter must choose between a chisel and a plane.) Some businesses are held captive to some extent by bad decisions they’ve made in the past, but in many (probably most) cases Mac or Linux would be a far better choice than Windows, and unwillingness to admit past mistakes is one major reason for continued reliance on Windows.

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