Apple Quietly Changes Erroneous Claims Of OS X's Invincibility

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News Posted: Mon, Jun 25 2012 4:11 PM
For years, Apple has propogated the myth that its computers were inherently secure thanks to its BSD roots, inherently better security management, or because Steve Jobs sacrificed puppies under the new moon to keep your platform safe. This created a dangerous perception that Macs were immune to viruses, trojans, or man-in-the-middle attacks. In reality, Apple has always benefited from security through obscurity -- when 90% or more of the world runs on PCs, PCs are the platforms hackers target.

Apple has now quietly acknowledged this fact with a few judicious updates to its Max OS X page. The first change is to the side bar, where Apple's TL,DR benefit explanation is posted.

We've gone from flat statements "It doesn't get PC viruses" to more accurate "It's built to be safe." This is a positive change, and a recognition of an underlying fact -- the gap between "PC virus" and "Mac Virus" isn't as broad as it used to be. Both are built on x86 processors, which means exploits that attack things like Java (as happened earlier this year) can take advantage of broad CPU compatibility. Here's the other change, with the original text on top and the altered text on bottom.

Again, note the difference between "You don't have to care at all!" to "Hey, we built a solid product." Far from thumbing our nose at Apple, these are good, long-overdue changes for the company to make. Apple users need to be aware that the company's success and high profile makes it a more tempting target for anyone looking to make a name for themselves in the industry.

One of the most significant findings of the Flashback Trojan breakout from a few months back is that Apple was aware of the problem for months before it chose to issue a patch. This is where the company needs to swallow its pride and copy a page from Microsoft's book. Redmond has had no choice but to adopt a rapid-response policy when exploits hit the 'Net. More often than not, Windows virus outbreaks are caused by patches not being applied rather than by Microsoft having failed to develop a solution. the entire "Patch Tuesday" model is something Apple will need to adopt.

Still, changing its rhetoric is the first step to teaching its customers how to protect themselves and what to watch out for. Ironically, this could prove to be something of a problem. PC users, much like Microsoft, have had no choice but to learn some basic skills regarding online protection (even if they haven't learned them very well.) Apple users who adopted the platform rather than learning to navigate the river may find themselves dumped in the proverbial creek in a few more years -- without a paddle.*

(Should you know an Apple user in need an aquatic locomotion device, I know several enterprising individuals in Nigeria who'd be happy to sell them one.)
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mhenriday replied on Tue, Jun 26 2012 6:17 AM

About time ! But as Joel indicates, better late than never ! I suspect that this welcome development is the result of certain recent changes in Apple's top-level management...


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digitaldd replied on Tue, Jun 26 2012 9:16 AM

Next there will just a a line that says 'Security? its not our fault', blame Adobe and Oracle.

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omegadraco replied on Tue, Jun 26 2012 12:00 PM

It's about time... There should be a line that says we don't get PC viruses we spread them like wildfire :P

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JDiaz replied on Tue, Jun 26 2012 1:40 PM

It's a start, now if they'll just admit to the other false advertisements :P

Seriously, Mac OS X also experiences crashes and, like computers running Windows, need to be rebooted or reinstalled in extreme cases. No technology to this day is exempt from bugs or hardware failure. There's just less issues because Macs are used for less stressful things most of the time than PC.s

Like PC users are more likely to use the system for gaming, some Mac users game too but not as many. While some 3rd party programs can be just as buggy, if not more so, on a Mac than a Windows system. Like I had plenty of problems with Photoshop, Illustrator, QuarkXpress, InDesign, MS Office, etc. While some things OSX forces you to use the Terminal to fix and that's not something the average Apple user is suppose to have to do.

I can personally attest that having to fix programs via the Library/Preferences is just as annoying and time consuming as fixing Windows programs through the registry.

To be fair most don't need to access the Terminal as most don't use anything that would seriously stress the system or do something that most people wouldn't be doing with a Mac anyway but for some of us it's been just as annoying as Windows systems.

Especially when OSX first came out, I initially liked the previous Mac OS better when OSX first came out and it was buggy and the UI still needed fixing but it has come a long way but all these points still apply for what Apple tried to promote as strengths of these systems.

Though no OS is perfect and I find things I both like and dislike about all OS, but what always annoyed me about Apple was the advertising went a little too obviously over the top with stretching the truth.

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sackyhack replied on Tue, Jun 26 2012 8:39 PM

Can't really fault Apple about this, better late than never. What's more annoying is the userbase. Hopefully this gets their attention and enforces safer browsing.

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tzu1978 replied on Wed, Jun 27 2012 9:35 AM

I can personally attest that having to fix programs via the Library/Preferences is just as annoying and time consuming as fixing Windows programs through the registry.

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