Mac Users' Security Smugness Set To Roll On For A While Yet
from the flame-on dept
Mac users had better watch out — for all six instances of malicious code written to attack OS X that were discovered in the first half of the year. Of course, that’s more than the zero that were found in the second half of 2005, so it’s enough for CNN to say attacks on the Mac are rising. The claim that the virus found on a small number of iPods earlier this week “highlighted” the threat to Macs is even more bizarre, considering it was a Windows virus. But hey, a little Mac smack talk always makes for good headlines, as bloggers around the world have figured out, and there’s no better way to rile up the fanboys (and generate some traffic) than to suggest that maybe the Mac isn’t quite as secure as the legion of smug Mac users would like to think. Without getting into the actual security of OS X relative to other platforms, the key stat to watch is Apple’s market share. A report this week said it’s now up to 5.8%, and the common thinking is that as it continues to increase, Macs are at greater risk. This is true, but only to a certain extent. Most security attacks and viruses are now geared to deliver financial gain. As is pointed out in the original article, at under 6 percent market share, Macs aren’t an attractive target. At 10 percent, Macs won’t be an attractive target, nor even at double today’s market share (assuming they followed Gartner’s advice and quit making hardware). The small number of Mac users doesn’t just mean there are fewer targets, but also that it’s much harder for viruses to spread around. If a Mac user got a trojan that wanted to replicate to other Mac users, say, via emailing the users’ contacts, it would only hit the fraction that were also Mac users, and so on and so on, making it much harder for it to spread. The tipping point where Mac market share makes it fruitful for virus writers to target Macs remains quite a ways off — and ultimately, it’s probably out of Apple’s reach. Update: Perhaps some CNN editor actually read the story, since its headline has been softened from the original “Mac attacks rare but rising”, to something with a little more wiggle room.