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November 21, 2006

links for 2006-11-21

November 21, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More on Mac malware

Matasano | Five Reasons to Ignore John Gruber's OS X Security Punditry

Here's a more detailed (and therefore, more convincing) version of the “security through irrelevancy” argument than the Larry Seltzer story, from an OS X security shop.

The original Symantec report Seltzer references includes a link to the nascent Bastille for OS X project, which looks interesting.

(Via reader "hi".)

November 21, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 20, 2006

Why no Mac viruses?

Daring Fireball: Jackass of the Week: Larry Seltzer

John Gruber goes off on the latest Windows-centric pundit to declare that the only reason Macs are essentially virus-free is that nobody's interested in them.

Seltzer's summary graph:

Opinion: The verdict is in: OS X is as insecure as anything out there, but somehow nobody—including attackers—cares.

Gruber focuses on the inconsistency that the Mac supports a healthy software market, likely one proportionate in size to the Mac market compared to the Windows market, but the Mac malware market is “nearly zero.”

Gruber misplays his case, however, when he says “Mac OS X’s malware market share hovers near zero (as did the classic Mac OS’s a decade ago).” Both Gruber and Seltzer seem to believe that the Mac has just never supported a virus-producing community. This is dead wrong.

The Mac environment wasn't always virus-free.

Once upon a time, I ran a few public-access labs at my university. These labs suffered several virus outbreaks, most notably catching WDEF before it was discovered in 1989. We also would occasionally see MDEF, nVIR, and Scores. The Mac's market share then was a little higher -- a little under 10 percent, versus 5 or 6 percent today -- but it was still a minority platform, with the great majority of computers running DOS or Windows.

And yet, there were 10 or 20 viruses running loose in the classic Mac OS ecosystem (compared to hundreds for DOS/Windows), and there are none running loose in the OS X ecosystem (compared to hundreds for Windows). Since the hardware was at one point exactly the same for either ecosystem, the difference must be in either the software or the user base.

But the OS X user base is decidedly more capable of creating a virus than the classic Mac OS ecosystem. Plenty of “alphageek” nerd users have made the switch, attracted by Apple's elegant hardware, (figuratively and occasionally literally) transparent interface, and Unix-y base. The only thing about the user base that discourages malware production is that most people who know enough to build a Mac virus can make a nice living as a programmer or administrator, so why foul the nest? Still, the number of users capable of generating theoretical Mac malware must be at least 5 times as large as it was before the release of OS X.

So if it's not the user base, it must be the software. The Unix security model is more secure than the pre-Vista Windows model, and must take the lion's share of the credit for the lack of OS X viruses. There may eventually be Mac OS X viruses, but to claim the reason there are none is that the platform is irrelevant is more than a little bizarre.

November 20, 2006 in Apple, Apple - Software, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

November 13, 2006

Mtn View Goodwill

Mtn View Goodwill
Originally uploaded by Frank Steele.
I traveled to Mountain View a couple of weeks ago. When I stepped out of the hotel to walk to dinner, this is what I saw.

I love the cutout moon hanging over the sunset, and the glow from the Goodwill store's shop window. I also love that Flickr calls the location "the Sahara Village Mobile Home Park neighborhood of Mountain View."

November 13, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 07, 2006

links for 2006-11-07

November 7, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 04, 2006

Finally, a candidate we all can get behind

Tired of all the political ads this season? Here's one candidate who tells it like it is:

Josh Jennings for Congress

November 4, 2006 in Seen browsing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 01, 2006

links for 2006-11-01

November 1, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack