Apple Security: Gates Overdoes It, but Threat Is Still Real


The flack over Bill Gates' pointed -- and somewhat uncharacteristic -- rant against Apple and Steve Jobs continues this morning, and one of the flash points is Gates' contention in a Newsweek interview that:

".. Security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally."

Well, that's probably not the case. Despite its evangelic fervor, this piece by MacWorld editor Peter Cohen smartly notes that the recent Month of Apple Bugs project certainly didn't turn up a major botnet threat daily.


However, security threats to the Mac are real, if not as dramatic as Gates said in his moment of irked candor.


A threat analysis published late last year by Symantec (we found it via this MS employee's blog) reports that holes in Apple software -- not just third-party apps, which Cohen and the Apple Bugs project cite more commonly -- have been found far more often in the last three or so years since OS X has been tested vigorously in labs. "Security guys," Gates would call them. Check out the line chart on page 4 of the Symantec PDF for an idea of the increased frequency of Apple-centric security bugs.


Still, as Symantec and every other credible source reports, hackers just seem to lay off Macs for some reason. This eWeek columnist runs down a list of possible reasons -- we've always been inclined to think it's because databases with thousands of credit card numbers are seldom stored on Macs.


The reality for businesses is simply this: All computers are vulnerable, and the biggest single risk is uneducated or careless users. No grumpy billionaire or sexy marketing campaign is going to change that.


(By the way, there's a new Get Mac ad about security posted at Apple's site. We'd post a direct link, but that requires an Active X control, which IE7's "improved" security features block by default.)

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