Mac Market Share Rise Means Security Free Ride Is Over

Ralph DeFrangesco

I read 12 articles trying to figure out how much market share the Apple Mac has. Okay, I skimmed the articles. The numbers ranged anywhere from 9 to 15 percent. Market watchers seem to feel that this market share will settle down between 20 and 25 percent. Choose any number you want, but Apple is gaining strength in the desktop market.


Along with an increase in market share is an increase in viruses, malware and, of course, security patches. In 2008, Apple released 35 security updates. This was slightly less than 2007, when Apple released 38. However, it is up significantly from 2005 and 2006, when it released 23 and 22 updates, respectively.


The numbers are on the rise, but let's put it in perspective. Microsoft released 77 updates in 2008, 69 in 2007, and 59 in 2006. I should mention that I did not count any out-of-band patches. Now also keep in mind that these patches are for multiple operating systems and applications, but it's all relevant.


I have two theories on why there are fewer security updates for the Apple Mac. One, the Mac has a smaller market share and there is a bit of "who cares" going on. If I were spending my copious free time writing viruses, which I don't, by the way, I wouldn't waste my time writing one for the Mac because of how few people it's going to affect. I am going to go after Windows. Second, the Mac operating system is based on UNIX. It takes a completely different skill set to be able to write viruses and malware for UNIX than it does for the Windows OS. I spoke to a friend and he offered a third theory; he felt that perhaps the Mac OS was written better than Windows. Unfortunately, I can neither confirm nor dismiss this theory since I have not seen the code for either OS.


When I visited the My First Mac Web site, I saw the lead line, "Do I Need Virus Protection for My New Mac?" The people that run the site claim the answer is no because of the same reasons I stated previously. In an interview with InformationWeek, Alex Eckelberry, CEO of Sunbelt Software, a maker of Windows security software, was quoted saying, "Generally, I wouldn't tell anyone not to run security software, but in the case of the Mac, I'm certainly more understanding if someone decides not to."


People, my advice is: I don't care what operating system you run, use virus protection. It only takes one occurrence and you are infected. Then you infect someone and they infect someone and pretty soon Apple is releasing as many patches as Microsoft. Since Microsoft has reserved the second Tuesday of each month for its patches, dubbed patch Tuesday, maybe Apple should reserve a day now ... Apple Monday has a nice ring to it.

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