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Online Safety: Who Says Macs Don’t Get Viruses?

mac-virus

Lots of people say “ Don’t worry about viruses, just get a Mac.” Is this advice on the level? Let’s take a look at the history of Macintosh security, and learn what we can from the Mac.

Today we’ll be talking about a lot of the myths and realities of security and viruses on the Mac platform. We’ll also be discussing why people so commonly think “Macs don’t get viruses” as well as why Macs may (or may not be) safer computers than Windows machines. And as usual, if you have any computing horror stories relating to Macs, viruses, and malware, feel free to share them with us in the comments.

Marketing the “Virus-Free” Computer

Macs have long been touted as the “virus-free” platform. There are a number of truths to this, as well as a number of myths. Many times, it can be hard to draw the line between what is the truth and what is simply advertising doublespeak. Take a look at the video above. These lines are particularly loaded:

PC: I think I got that virus that’s going around. You’d better stay back, this one’s a real hum-dinger.

Mac: Okay, I’ll be fine.

PC: Don’t be a hero! Last year there were a known 140,000 known viruses for PCs.

Mac: PCs, not Macs.

This is interesting wording, because it is technically true. Viruses are like any program—they have to be written with platform specific languages, with instructions written for that machine, operating system, type of processor, etc.

What does that mean in non-nerd speak? That Macs can’t run Windows programs without running Windows. And then, it just is a Windows machine. Since viruses are programs too, Windows viruses can’t be run on OS X. So, those “140,000 known viruses” really are inert on Mac OS. What this doesn’t mean (and this is where the clever wording comes into play) is that Macs are somehow immune to viruses. Let’s take a look at the realities of viruses on the Mac platform.

 

Target Market of Viruses

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Apple has been criticized by many for opting for “security through minority.” This basically means that Macs are more secure than Windows machines because they have less exposure—that there are simply less Macs around to develop viruses for. When you look at the market share (bar graph above) that Windows computers have and see how they stack up against the number of OS X computers, this begins to become clear.

Like any business investment, malware and viruses take time and manpower to develop. Remember in the last edition of “Online Safety” when we compared Hackers to organized criminals, or the Mafia? Because they are organized, you can think of them as a business as well. They want the best possible return on the investment of this time and manpower, so it makes the most sense to cast the widest net and go for Windows machines, simply because many many more computers in the world are going to be running Windows. Statistically speaking, the more machines running a platform, the more users are likely to exist that don’t upgrade their security patches, or will allow malware to be installed on their machines.

While Apple computers have become more and more common in the past ten or so years, the landscape of computer users hasn’t been upset dramatically from where it used to be. It still makes the most sense to develop viruses for the largest platform for the biggest return on investment. Therefore, Macs are “safe” because it’s not a viable investment of time and labor to attack Mac users. Yet.

Pwn2Own, and the Two Minute Mac Hack

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Meet Charlie Miller. Charlie became a famous name in security cracking by winning prizes and cracking a MacBook Air in a hack that took him a paltry two minutes to perform. While this might seem terrifying at first glance, let’s take a look at what a “two minute hack” actually means.

Pwn2Own is a conference where security crackers compete by finding flaws in operating systems, browsers, etc. If one of these security experts aren’t prepared to crack a browser or the security of an OS, they simply don’t waste their time trying to do it publicly. It takes many long hours of preparation, study and research to get the hack “in their pocket” so to speak. While Charlie did manage to compromise the security in an incredibly short amount of time (no easy feat) he was only able to do it with lots of hard work and preparation.

It’s worth noting that Charlie is a Mac user himself (check out the Macbook he’s using above) and (for now) supports Mac as a secure platform for end users. In his own words, Charlie says:

“For now, I’d still recommend Macs for typical users as the odds of something targeting them are so low that they might go years without seeing any malware, even though if an attacker cared to target them it would be easier for them.” (source)

Security through minority seems to be working for Mac, even for security experts like Charlie. This may not always be the case, but for now, it can’t hurt. Also, it’s worth mentioning that Apple did create patches to protect from Charlie’s exploits shortly after Pwn2Own—any respectable software company would pretty much have to!

A Surprisingly Short List of Viruses For Mac

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Here’s the good news, Mac users: statistically you are still safer than Windows machines. According to Tom’s Hardware:

“In 2008, there were 1.5 million different pieces of malware targeting Windows machines. There are less than 200 pieces of malware targeting the Mac.”

Viruses on Macintosh computers are a reality. They just aren’t as common in a profit-driven world of malware. In fact, you’ll likely have a hard time finding a fairly complete lists of viruses for OS X, and anti-virus software for the platform is also fairly uncommon. This doesn’t mean that threats aren’t real and that Macs are mysteriously “immune” to threats. The biggest threat to compromising the security of a machine is often the user, so arm yourself with information!

So, Are Macs Really Safe from Viruses?

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Macs are a fairly safe platform, but that doesn’t mean that they are always going to be. Nor does it mean that they aren’t without their faults. As time progresses on, it seems inevitable that any platform that is as popular as Mac will enjoy years and years of users carelessly using the internet with no repercussions. In fact, while viruses may be fairly uncommon, there are other kinds of malware that have been known to attack Macs, and it’s probable that instances of this sort of malware will increase over time.

Two things could happen to make attacks on Macintosh computers more common. The first: an increase of Market share of MacOS X computers. This article on Tom’s Hardware cites that a 16% market share of Mac OS could potentially make “profit driven” virus creation a reality on the platform. Looking at the numbers above (fairly recent compared to the writing of this article) we see that Apple still has a long way to go to reach that goal.

Here’s what seems inevitable: more and more people will begin to use personal computers of any variety, be they Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux. While the Windows market is likely to grow faster in a world where more and more people are starting to use the internet, in a world where even more people are using computers, even more people should be using Macs. Will be begin to see niche profit-driven viruses? It seems very plausible—security through minority will probably not work forever.


Have thoughts on Mac security, malware, or keeping your system safe? Tell us about your experience with viruses (on any platform) in the comments, or email them to ericgoodnight@howtogeek.com.

Image Credits: Sad iMac by Alan Edwardes, available under Creative Commons. Sad Mac by Liam Cooke, available under Creative Commons. Apple Macbook Single User Boot by Clive Darr, available under Creative Commons. Jack and Mac by Yersina Pestis, available under Creative Commons.

Eric Z Goodnight is an Illustrator and Graphics Geek who hopes to make Photoshop more accessible to How-To Geek readers. When he’s not headbanging to heavy metal or geeking out over manga, he’s often off screen printing T-Shirts.

  • Published 10/12/11

Comments (69)

  1. Kent Dorfman

    I checked the list and did not find a single virus listed that infects a Intel Mac running OS X. Might want to do a little research before compiling such an idiotic article.

    There were 80+ viruses for the Mac on operating systems prior to OS X; and there are none for OS X. Does this mean that prior to OS X, Apple had a bigger market share than it does now? Hardly.

    Charlie Miller hacks his way into Macs using Safari. Here’s a tip: DON’T USE SAFARI!!!

    I believe it would take a doctor with a flashlight to determine where you got this information.

  2. Kent Dorfman

    Also, to note that virus and malware are not synonymous.

  3. Irish_IT

    @Kent Dorfman Obvious Troll is Obvious. You can tell this guy is the Mac Super Nerd. This article, taken at face value, is true. Eventually, every OS gets hacked and exploited.

  4. Zerodash

    Oh man, this article is playing with fire. The Apple cultists have just lost their prophet and you post an article that doesn’t portray Macs as the one true infallible rainbows & sunshine platform.

    The faithful are going to come out of the woodwork with the ad hominem attacks on the author…oh look, the first comment already managed to call you an “idiot”. Go internet!

  5. Kent Dorfman

    Then disprove what I stated!! Here is a link to all such articles over the years:

    http://daringfireball.net/2011/05/wolf

    So you are not the first einstein to make such a statement and unfortunately, won’t be the last.

    Doesn’t it suck when the reply to you is factual?

  6. The Wise Onlooker

    I believe Kent Dorkman, erm, sorry Dorfman has started what will be the inevitble Macs vs PCs row. I must say i have both a Win 7 PC and a Mac and i’ve never had a virus on either of them! Some people must just be stupid enough to belive there is sexy russians waiting on them if they click that button…………

  7. Dictionar textil

    This year at pwn2own, the Safari 5.0.3 on a fully-patched Mac OS X 10.6.6 and five seconds after the browser visited its specially-crafted malicious web page, it had both launched the platform calculator application (a standard harmless payload to demonstrate that arbitrary code has been executed) and wrote a file to the hard disk (to demonstrate that the sandbox had been bypassed).

  8. Kent Dorfman

    The article is not about Windows; it is about the dreaded (and fictional) mac virus. Are macs susceptible to malware, yes. Are they susceptible to viruses, no.

  9. The Wise Onlooker

    Kent i take it your a Win7 fan unless im mistaken?

  10. Hatryst

    Macs are not vulnerable to viruses. It’s the users who are, and most Mac users are sensible enough to avoid them ;)

  11. Kent Dorfman

    Again, viruses and malware are not synonymous.

  12. Kent Dorfman

    I use a Windows laptop for work and a MacBook Pro for personal. I am a recent convert and the Mac does most everything I need except I cannot run Oracle on it unless I use a virtual machine.

  13. ericssonfan

    Macs started to suck more than anything that has ever sucked before.

  14. notamacfan

    macs = pc’s for dummies

  15. Nick

    Upcoming windows 8 will decrease the market share of mac so security through minority will always applicable to mac (Unless microsoft is not going to release some crappy OS like vista again)

  16. Kent Dorfman

    @Nick – Then you woke up.
    @notamacfan and ericssonfan – Have you ever used a Mac?

  17. notamacfan

    @Kent I have unfortunately, and I’ve also supported them.. even owned one at one point.. I have a special level of hate for Macs and the majority (not all) of its users that I have had the misfortune of encountering… this wasn’t a localized thing either.. I’ve travelled a lot and it appears to be the norm Mac fans..

  18. Tomhat

    @Hatryst: I don’t think that’s true. You may be a sensible user. Your surrounding Mac users could be too. Yet, it’s not a general rule. Trust me, I know friends using Macs that don’t have a clue about sensibility.
    Regarding Windows users, let’s not get started :D
    I think as how (security through minority) works, we can say (stupidity proportional to majority) would prove true too.

  19. NoobTux

    mac or pcs ….. still distros owned `em all :)

  20. Mike

    Kent, you didn’t really take what this article is trying to say: That a computer operating system will ALWAYS be able to be hacked and loaded with viruses. This is reality. The people who make Windows and Mac OS will make mistakes and overlook things. You try making something with billions of lines of code and expect it to perfect. But the real truth comes from the market share numbers… if I made viruses, why wouldn’t I go after the biggest market share? To do otherwise would be a stupid decision, and hackers and virusmakers overall aren’t stupid. They know exactly what they are doing. Now, I don’t agree with Nick. I think Windows 8 will be awesome, but I don’t think it will kill Mac’s market share. Mac is doing a fine job of that themselves by keeping their prices so high.

    A high pricetag on a machine that you could get for half the price if it ran Windows causes a cognitive dissonance, which causes its owners to invent reasons why its so much better, which causes fervent brand loyalty. Mac’s will always keep the low market share because a reasonable person who knows a little about tech will see: Higher pricetag, average power, limited customization, limited software library and laugh. Thats why there’s such a big fight between Mac and PC. Its not really about the systems at all… its more about those who refuse to be taken in by a lacking deal, and those who justify their expensive purchases with unwavering loyalty.

    Thats just my two cents. I still feel Mac’s are great, if only to increase competition in the market, and to give a solid option for someone who has no interest in tech. If I know someone who is almost totally computer illiterate, I’ll always suggest Mac to them. Its a great system for beginners.

  21. KevO

    @Kent Dorfman funny story, I just had to reinstall Mac OSX on a users computer because of a virus. I’ve ALSO seen malware/spyware from torrents on a mac. To say macs are invulnerable to anything is quite ignorant of you. Anything is possible.

  22. Bikas

    This article, as far as I think, is simply puttin up a point that Macs can have virus. If they don’t, it’s different story. Every enthusiast try his hands on all platforms before settling to one and that may give reasons for Macs having few viruses earlier.
    Lemme give u and example a bit different. Even in today’s world, if someone releases ILOVEYOU Worm on Mac, and somehow entire Macs in the world is affected, how much damage it costs? It won’t even be a visible fraction of what it did on Windows back then. So authors point is, well, quite accurate IMO.

    And before anybody asks me, yeah I’ve used Mac OS X for past 2 years ( and thankfully not usin it now), and didn’t find any use of it apart from me constantly yellin at it. Look and feel kind of things are sure personal taste, and I’m not gonna talk about that. but here, I cannot practically play any games, do office work, Photoshop for Mac suck compared to Windows (y the hell there is no Linux release), and most of all I really hate Quicktime player. There r other issues as well, but simply put Macs r just not for me n it feels so less powerful even with mighty hardware.
    Currently, I’m mainly a Linux user and use Windows at work or when I’ve to play. Don’t even wanna see the Macs or those damn stupid fanboys!

  23. FredEx

    A virus and malware are not quite the same thing, BUT don’t believe that malware won’t screw up a system to the point of having to do a reinstall. Most newer malware I’ve found on folks systems will imbed itself deeply in a system and makes itself hard to remove by deleting very key files in the OS as well as modify some. It can be removed, but then you will find several things in the OS no longer work at all or at least not work properly. For example, trying to download the latest update or a special executable to rid the system of the particular malware is impossible. It will appear that the file/files have been downloaded, but they are not there at all or you’ll have a damaged file that will not run. It is then easier to do a reinstall than trying to track down all the files deleted or damaged.

    I don’t fix systems for a living, but I’m a go to guy when people I know or their friends are having system problems. Just three weeks ago after a failed call fixing an issue via support I was at a friends fixing a problem on his two month old iMAC. Not a virus or malware, but a problem just the same. Video locking may sound familiar to some MAC users out there. Apple support was useless helping him.

  24. Scott

    When you pay 3x as much as you should for a computer, you expect to get more. For fanboys, that “extra bonus” is the illusion of immunity from viruses. Common sense isn’t really part of the equation.

  25. ArgusVision

    Ha Ha! Linux FTW! I’m not a Mac or a PC.
    I just don’t like Trolls… :) <–wait… oops. :)

    @Kent – I think you will eventually find out that a virus can be written for ANY platform. A virus is, at the most basic definition, malicious code. (Yes, you are correct that viruses are only one form of the broader term "malware".) If it can run code it can have a virus, or other form of malware written for it.
    Even LINUX (I know I'll get hate mail here) has had viruses in the past. They were comparatively benign, but viruses none the less.

    @Security through Minority – Typically, Macs and LINUX are more secure than PC's, but it has as much to do with security practices as any minority privilege. Honestly the biggest security flaw most OS's are presented with are the users themselves.

    @Nick – I actually like Vista in a round-about way… It introduced me to LINUX. :)

  26. KevO

    @Scott
    Best comment ever.

  27. Jblow

    “Will be begin to see niche profit-driven viruses? It seems very plausible—security through minority will probably not work forever.”

    I’ve been reading this same sentiment since the 80s. I suspect I’ll still be hearing it 20 years from now.

    @notamacfan,
    IME, as a rule, Mac users are no more or less clueless than Windows users. If you’re comfortable with Unix (pc’s for dummies?), OS X is dynamite.

  28. Faultline

    @dorfman
    If you’re so sure about Macs not being able to get a virus why don’t you just slap a static IP on your machine and post said IP on here and see how long it takes?
    I use a MacBook Pro and i run VMware when i need to use Visual Studio for class. i’m a college kid and i could script a virus for your mac in about the same amount of time it’d take you to wipe yourself. No system is immune to viruses.

  29. Bain

    @Kent Dorfman… The only totally secure computer is one which has never had an OS installed, is not plugged in to the power or a network and is buried in the back garden under a ton of concrete.

    One rule I have found to be true is “If you think you are indestructible, you are in real trouble”. Hope you have everything backed up :)

  30. Andrea

    I appreciate the time people take to provide suggestions,
    not ever sure why it has to devolve to name calling.
    I’m not stupid, like my mac after years of windows,
    wanting to have technology be intuitive does not imply
    my lack. So, if not safari for surfing, what is a safe browser please.
    If I want to protect my mac, should I get software/program for that?
    Thanks!

  31. nt0xik8ed

    vista outsold osx, haaaa

  32. Eric Z Goodnight

    @Andrea: Chrome is supposed to be very secure, if the results from Pwn2Own are to be believed.

  33. Andrea

    Thanks Eric!

  34. Willie

    I passed on both Windows and Mac and I exclusively run Ubuntu on my laptop. I recently purchased a second cheap refurbished Windows 7 laptop for those few occasions where Windows is needed and to connect to my work VPN and servers. Which is just a much easier process within Windows. I love the fact that Ubuntu is virtually protected from the very nasty stuff that can bring down a Windows machine.

  35. superfahd

    I remember once when I had windows and linux machines linked with a shared folder on a network. There was this virus on one of the windows machine that did nothing but make copies of itself in random locations with filenames resembling pr0n videos. Somehow it got on to the shared folder and since linux handles different file systems so transparently, it got onto the linux box and had a field day since i had nothing resembling an anti-virus on linux! et voila, a cross-species virus!

    I’m wondering if something similar could happen between windows and Mac

  36. stephen

    virus and malware dont get caught by computers they get caught by dumb users that think they are immune

    as for the belief macs will never get affected if you believe that I have an unsinkable ship for sell you just need to travel to the grand banks for it

  37. Brandido

    As a Security+ certified professional, I’d like to point out that viruses ARE Malware! Malware is an umbrella term. It discribes any MALicous softWARE, including viruses, worms, trojans, etc. Also, as someone that has worked with both PCs and macs, I can asure you, macs can get infected! I do prefere PCs simply because they are better prepared for it. it ussually takes Apple MONTHS to finally patch vulnerabilities primarily because their security department is miniscule, compared to windows where hotfixes are released within a few days. Any machine with a dumb enough user will get infected. I got so tired of having to explain to mac and pc users how dumb they are to get infected(please just keep your computer up to date) that i left the field and work with servers now.

  38. Xana452

    Why would someone want a mac infected anyway? What are you going to do with a folder full of music and home made videos? Thats right: Nothing. On windows most people have banking stuff, credit card numbers, personal information and so forth. It doesnt help that there are some exploitables in Windows, not to say that Mac is with out its faults. I havent seen a Trojan disguise itself as a .pdf on windows, nor have i seen anyone dumb enough to download or open a file named something like “trojan.pdf.exe”

  39. halemaumau

    Want some cheese for you whine, Gizmodo?

  40. Bob

    @ Dorfman

    Learn how to read. Absence of virus !=not susceptible to them. There is absolutely no reason to believe a virus can’t be written for OS X. Indeed, Apple has been slow to implement things like memory address randomization, etc., that would make that more difficult.

    More importantly, viruses aren’t the preferred vector for real criminals these days. They much prefer URL spoofing, etc. Again, Apple has been slow to make improvements in that area. You yourself even recommend against using Safari.

    I understand Apple trying to take advantage of a system where they face less threats and pretending that’s a function of their design. But as pwn2own and other head to head battles suggest, that’s simply not the case.

  41. CK

    Mac OS X can be infected thru targeted attacks on the OS & Applications. Security holes are regularly found.

    Mac OS X currently is far less likely to encounter an attack than a Windows OS.

    Is all the other bickering really necessary?

  42. me

    I suggest you stay on your current os and don’t worry aboutthe comparison of viruses on Mac vs. PC. It just like in traffic, when one lane is going faster and the other lane is really slow, everyone in the slow lane goes to the fast lane, making the fast lane slow and the slow lane faster, then it just starts over and never ends. Everyone will then switch to a Mac, then PC will become safer and macs will become vulnerable, the people will regret switching to mac and go back to PC and on and on and on and on.

  43. uking94

    @me: Best comment in the entire “conversation” :D.

  44. Ombm
  45. dlgn

    @me Yep, that’s how the market works.

    Now, if you’ve read my other posts on HTG, you’ll know I’m a huge Linux fan. But I do admit, EVEN LINUX CAN GET VIRUSES OR OTHER MALWARE. In fact, it’s easier to make viruses for Linux because it’s open source. But for the same reason, it gets fixed much faster. And of course, if minority protects OS X, it protects Linux 16 times over. But my point is, any computer can get viruses, and currently it doesn’t seem like there are any OSes (except possibly–POSSIBLY–Linux) that are made so well that it’s any more difficult to make viruses for it than for any other OS. In fact, the more powerful the OS, the easier it is to code a virus. Hey, it’s Godel’s theorem again! The stronger the OS, the more susceptible it is to viruses, and it’s only completely safe if it can’t do anything at all. (For those who care, this is based on the same principle as Godel’s Theorem, which applies very strongly to computers.)

  46. KatsumeBlisk

    You want to know why PCs are safer than Macs? Because Macs are PCs. In the end, they’re one in the same. They just run different OSes. You don’t see us Linux users saying we have an Ubuntu or Arch. We have a PC.

    In the end, any OS is vulnerable in some shape or form. There’s no such thing as a perfect system. Mac OS X may have less viruses, but they exist. Even Linux has virus. Most of the time though, it’s up to the user. I run MSE on my Windows 7 computers to be safe with downloads (and it’s lightweight compared to others), but I don’t even touch AV in Linux. I trust my own judgement.

    Anything can be used to hack an OS if given the right permissions. Technically, I could write a program for Mac OS X that was malicious. It would do nothing by itself, but given the right permissions by the user, it could do anything it wanted. Same goes for Windows or Linux. You just have to be smart.

    All OSes are equally susceptible. Windows just has a higher volume of viruses since it has the greatest market share. It doesn’t mean that Windows is less secure than Mac or Linux (in general).

  47. TechnicalServiceGuy

    Ignorance is bliss in this case it seems.

  48. DrolandCorp Industries

    What everyone fails to realize is that a virus can and will get into any system and software often can do little to stop it. Windows, Mac OSX, and even my beloved penguins are run on the Intel x86 architecture. There hasn’t been a distinction from Apple hardware and PC hardware for ages and hardware can be easily exploited, even with protection software. An Example? a standard wireles card can be exploited by anyone on or near the same network, it only takes a short amount of time (and some quick coding) to change a router’s MAC address and reroute all data through the hacker’s computer or for the hacker to monitor all data transfered to the router. Once that is done, it’s only a matter of know-how and brute force until the hacker is in your computer. So even if you think your software is safe, your hardware provides the perfect backdoor for anyone or anything. If a hacker an do it, he can program a script to do it for him.

    End of topic. No one is safe.

  49. Scott's a dick

    @Scott

    Quality and price of the hardware aside, how much does windows software cost compared to OSX? 5x or 10x more? And then price of AV software per year? Time spent formatting and reinstalling because of infection? Reduced performace due to AV software running in the background?

    really, bringing the price argument to the table wasn’t thought through was it?

  50. k5cr3am

    @Brandido
    Thank you for finally clarifying the definition of Malware and Viruses. I had been shaking my head reading all the comments leading up to yours.

  51. Love it!

    A Mac vs PC war beats watching Jerry Spinger ANYDAY!!!
    Unlike Spinger there’s some intelligent life, but like Jerry Spinger there’s plenty of stupidity, hubris run amok and over-the-top drama! If any of you directed the “I’m a PC/Mac” commercials they would have end in a death match… or at the least a chair would have been thrown.

  52. Skwint

    I am not a professional but am one of the ‘go to’ guys for most other Europeans living in the same area as me here in Thailand.
    I agree with a few of the other people here in that, it’s the people that let the virus’s get into their systems. I haven’t had malware on my own Windows PC or Laptop for years and that’s going through XP, Vista and 7.
    But I’ve had guys come to me with dead computers simply because they haven’t run any form of anti-virus or anti-malware since the day they bought it, apart from maybe the Norton 30 day free trial. Mac will have just as many problems, because of the users it’s just a matter of time.

  53. First Mac

    Well I have been in the engineering industry for over 13 years now (control/ instrumentation) and have always used a windows based machine, with all their pros and cons. The last OS I purchased (with box) was XP in preference to Vista. The time came to upgrade, and I started to look around and do a little research rather than completely ignoring the Mac’s (and others). My comparison was not just based on speed/ performance, this machine is not for gaming, I have passed that (infact i prefer the older arcade nintendo & nintendo games). I needed a computer that did what I needed. The MacAir with the upgrade processor was perfect. Small, with the solid state hard disk, very fast, infact I still laugh when this thing boots (under 7 secs). Hard disk (yes it’s not 2Tb – I dont want that, I have that at home, networked with all my shit. My archives which I rarely use fit on a removalbe drive and thats that) is just large enough. and a very neat system that is easy to use with great searching. It is true that there are some programs I need that require Windows, in fact, some, DOS. the DOS emulator (boxer, freeware) works seamlessly as with parallels = not a problem. In fact I didn’t even need to upgrade windows! This was the best computer in its class. Price wise, when comparing just the technology I think it probably cost me $500 more. BUT the other machines for $500 more would not give you the same machine. Bottom line. You can sit and debate the benefits of both windows and Macs untill the cows come home, the bottom line is Macs are great engineered pieces of kit, with the best interface to machine (including the physical item). I think Macs are Great and I may just not purchase another Windows machine, Good luck.

  54. Chard

    If Mac had a larger market share than windows, then hackers would target Macs more because they would get more out of their time and effort. Its as simple as that.

  55. EazyRyder

    Any OS is suspectible to Malwares . Its just that Linux (based on Unix) and Mac (Based on BSD) are inherently more secure in their kernel design than windows . In windows you have more avenues for attacks with their bad design (Registry et al ) .
    Again any OS which has its admin acct compromised is going down …

  56. Kreubs

    I laugh when I hear fanboys talk about how infallible Mac is. Mac users will brag about no BSOD’s… well what about a kernel panic? Then there are viruses… as for any OS you have to develop for that platform and you have to know what’s vulnerable. In 30 minutes a friend and I found a way to rip the auto indexer to shreds with a ridiculously simple Java program. A snow leopard password can be hacked in 5 minutes too (I haven’t tried the method on lion yet). So, I have personally seen a Mac get hacked, virused, and kernel panic…

  57. UNIX
  58. UNIX

    Windows 7 = Windows XP. Win7 comes just with a new and “user friendly” interface and some minor base chances.
    Macs are UNIX, UNIX is the most secure OS base there is. No wonder almost all of the web servers are UNIX based, such as Linux. You did mention the market share for desktop OS, but you didn’t mention the web servers market share.
    Sorry, but this article is miss guided. You should get your facts right. There is no way a OS is virus or malware free, but to get into a Unix, it is much more complicated.
    Windows is full of flaws. Windows users should know so!!
    I’m not a Mac fan, i’m a UNIX fan!

  59. OH

    @KatsumeBlisk Very nice comment, but read the link above from @UNIX.
    Linux and Macs are more reliable because they can’t run a virus as root if the user doesn’t give the right permissions. On a Windows, there is no such thing. There is one global permission, if you open the document with the virus, it’s over. Thats why on UNIX based OSes it isn’t so easy to deploy a virus, and gives the user more chances to avoid the virus.

  60. KatsumeBlisk

    @OH, I know that, but Windows also has its User Account Control. Microsoft is steadily fixing it. It’s still not as good as keeping root/admin separate, but it’s more effective than XP-days.

  61. Rick S

    Since I learned how to run my my PC properly I haven’t had any problems for many years now.
    However I use all three. Windows, Mac, and Linux.
    Half the kids in town ask to use my computers because they say they are the fastest in town.

    The PC was the fastest to get screwed up when the kids were running it. lol.
    For some reason they don’t like the Mac even though they can run it better than I can.

    They all love the PCLinuxOS so I installed different flavours of Linux on some spare computers to keep them from fighting over it and found that was the answer. Fast, free and kid proof.
    They can click on whatever the hell they want and everything keeps working.

    Opinions are like butt holes, Everybody has one. I fix other peoples computers for a hobby but for some reason I don’t like working on my own and with Linux I don’t have to.

    I agree with some of the comments that say it’s not the OS they are using but the people using them that are causing the problems by not doing things right. That’s where Linux comes in. Idiot proof.

  62. Rick S

    Sorry folks I was only half on the subject on my last comment.

    I would like to add that when I was letting kids use my PC they would disable my antivirus to get where they wanted to go so it wasn’t Windows fault that it would get nailed with a pile of viruses and other crap.
    The kids didn’t screw up the Mac and it seemed to work perfectly even after they were done with it.
    I feel that the Mac has a fine operating system and is safer than Windows but like some of the readers commented there is no such thing as a100% safe OS.

    You would have to download and manually install a virus to get it on Linux and even then it couldn’t do much. So I think Linux is pretty safe if you keep in mind that you can be hacked.
    Well that’s my opinion anyway. lol.

  63. OH

    @Rick S Mac works like that too. Both, Linux and Macs are UNIX based. You have to download and run the virus as root user to get the OS damaged.
    The User Account Control isn’t the same thing runing somthing as root, @KatsumeBlisk. It just warns you that the program can be harmful to your OS, but that’s all. It gives that massage to all of the programs that aren’t in the Windows Developers List, and there are a LOT of good software that are not in that ridiculous list. It does nothing to help you avoid viruses, like Linux and Macs do. Nicely put by @Rick S as idiot proof.

  64. Paul

    @OH etc: I think the point of the article is that “security through obscurity” isn’t security at all. It’s largely irrelevant which OS is easier to infect – the point is that all OSs _can_ be infected but up until now malware designers have mostly concentrated on the biggest target. I encounter plenty of OSX and Windows users who will happily click on anything that shows up, unaware of the permissions they’re giving. In fact, it’s more common in my experience with those Mac users who buy in to the “Macs can’t get viruses” myth and believe they genuinely won’t be infected with anything no matter what they do – it’s often not even on their horizon. At least PC users are aware, for the most part, of the need to be careful. As other posters have said, educating users is the most important factor. By encouraging that myth Apple have done a huge disservice to their userbase, because education then has to start with trying to convince Mac users that what they thought they knew about their platform is not correct.

  65. Rick S

    Thanks @OH,
    I was wondering if my rambling on made sense to anybody. Looks like it did. lol.

    I get a real kick out of reading some of the comments. Nobody seems to want to give the other guy any slack. Even though I fix computers for a hobby I don’t know enough to get all wound up on somebody elses opinion.

    By using different versions of all three OS I think I can safely give an opinion without p*ssing anybody off. By sticking to what I believe are facts I hope to help others learn too. I still have a lot to learn myself. ( Fact ) Vista is crap and people buy new computers with Windows 7 which frees up lots of good laptops to put Linux on. It all depends on how you look at it, Vista did a lot good too. Hahaha.

  66. Robc

    Well…. I fixed a Mac last week wipe and reinstall. Macs are ok but prone like windows. In the end its about finding weaknesses in the os. Macs unix linux….all have weaknesses that can be exploited. Soon though it will be about the mobile os…. Guess who has market share there? Cash to be made there….

  67. OH

    @Paul. Yes, the point is to say that all OSes are vulnerable. But the article is putting the fault there are so many viruses on the market share, where Windows is dominant. For desktop OSes that is a fact, but as @UNIX said, web servers are, in most of the cases, Linuxes. That shows that there are in fact, so many windows viruses because they are weak on securety and easy to attack.

    I can’t understand how people defend Windows so much if they never tried other OSes. I work only with Mac and Linux over 10 years (before that i had Win PCs) and never had to reinstall or fix anything on them. I’m all day on the pc, i’m a web programmer and webdesigner.
    On Windows, constant crashes, Blue Screen of Death, Viruses, incompatible software with new Win releases, the Win7 64bit simply doesn’t work like it should, it’s EXPENSIVE etc. Linux are free, easy to use and more secure. Why should anyone use Windows (except for gamming)?

  68. milev

    Dont want viruses?
    Use Amiga OS!
    It runs on power pc and I believe that no one is tried to write a virus for it.
    Couse hardly anyone know that its still existing.

  69. CK

    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5002

    The most recent Mac security updates (including server edition) includes 23 counts of ‘arbitrary code execution’, including attack vectors such as viewing maliciously crafted pdf documents, emails, quicktime movies, HTML, and even just viewing App Store help content. Even legitimate websites get hacked, & can spread these types of maliciously crafted attack vectors.

    Likewise, most months Microsoft is patching ‘arbitrary code execution’ holes in windows OS.

    I’ll say it before, and I’ll say it again: Why do people get emotional about My OS vs. Your OS, and yet no one gets emotional about gong after the criminals who are profiting from exploiting all our systems?

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