Intel, the end of Mac security?
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Thread: Intel, the end of Mac security?

  1. #1
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    Intel, the end of Mac security?

    Hi all,

    AFAIK there are very few, if any, virus/trojans/spyware for Mac. Do you think Apple switching to Intel platform will make Macs more vulnerable to virus/trojans/spyware? Or all of these dangers only take advantage at OS level, therefore Macs will still remain secure?

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    what the hardware platform has with malware?
    Following that concept, the number of malware for x86 *nix should be the same as for Windows....
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  3. #3
    AO übergeek phishphreek's Avatar
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    Not because of the hardware itself... but because switching platforms will bring in more users.

    Switching platforms might reduce the cost of Macs. The cost is a major reason why most people buy a windows PC instead of a Mac. Especially if Dell and Gateway and others start shipping boxes with Mac at a reasonable price. If more and more people start using Macs, then malware writers will start to target those users too.

    Malware writers normally focus on the platforms with the most users. Higher infection rate, etc.
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    Super Moderator: GMT Zone nihil's Avatar
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    I think that this "Mac security" thing is a myth. They are not intrinsically more secure, it is just that there are fewer of them, so it is "security through obscurity" which cannot be relied upon.

    The processor has nothing to do with security, as already stated, unless the malware is ASM based, in which case some will not run on some processors.

    I think that we have to see what kind of market penetration it achieves? If there is a significant increase in machines that solely boot Mac OS then that will decrease the obscurity factor. However, I suspect that a lot will dual boot, which would suggest that the traditional Windows attack vectors will continue to be used.

    I really don't anticipate a massive shift to PCs running the Mac OS as it is not significantly cheaper than Windows. I really think that if OS cost is the factor people would go for Linux.

    Anyway, the real reason for the price difference between an Apple and a PC is Apple's pricing and marketing policy. They could actually do themselves some serious damage with this venture?



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    Re: Intel, the end of Mac security?

    Originally posted here by johnnymier
    Do you think Apple switching to Intel platform will make Macs more vulnerable to virus/trojans/spyware? Or all of these dangers only take advantage at OS level, therefore Macs will still remain secure?
    Umm, well, for one thing, I've seen absolutely nothing to indicate that Apple will be switching architectures, merely suppliers. This may surprise you, but Intel makes much more than just Pentium and Itanium processors. They have the production capacity to easily add Apple's loads to their facilities, even if it involved developing a new Apple-specific architecture, or producing G5s. There are a lot of things Apple isn't just going to abandon (like Altivec, etc), not to mention the expense of converting applications to a new architecture if these misunderstandings were indeed the case.

    Even apart from all of that, assuming they WERE switching to x86, it would not matter, as Spyware, Trojans, etc., are all written for the OS.

    Edit: To clarify, everything I've seen mentioned has been vague, indicating "Intel's chips", but I can find nothing on Apple's site to indicate a specific line. For all we know it could mean Itanium (it's certainly within Apple's normal price range :P).
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  6. #6
    AFAIK there are very few, if any, virus/trojans/spyware for Mac. Do you think Apple switching to Intel platform will make Macs more vulnerable to virus/trojans/spyware? Or all of these dangers only take advantage at OS level, therefore Macs will still remain secure?
    All the s/w are OS specific and i don't think that a change in architecture will hurt the security of mac because as nihil said MAC pc's are "security through obscurity"

  7. #7
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    I think that this "Mac security" thing is a myth. They are not intrinsically more secure, it is just that there are fewer of them, so it is "security through obscurity" which cannot be relied upon
    I couldn't agree with you more nihil. In fact I have been trying to tell everyone this for quite some time. Everytime one of those stupid threads pop up (Windows vs mac vs linux) and the same stupid people spouting off about how windows sucks and how it's so insecure... I'm always saying the same damn thing... "Windows only SEEMS less insecure because there's A LOT MORE computers running windows...

    there are very few, if any, virus/trojans/spyware for Mac
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  8. #8
    Super Moderator: GMT Zone nihil's Avatar
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    Windows only SEEMS less insecure because there's A LOT MORE computers running windows...
    Exactly, The Duck and I would expand that argument to say that Joe Public goes into a store and asks for "a computer" they will be sold a PC with Windows. If a guy goes into a store and buys a Mac or a *nix box, there is a very good chance that they know what they are doing.

    So what I am adding to your argument is not only does Windows present a far greater number of targets, it also presents a disproportionally higher proportion of "soft user" targets?

    It is very difficult to find any of these comparisons that I would call "level playing field". Like you get the OSes and have them configured by "hard users" then do the comparisons.

    Catch has argued very eloquently along these lines in several posts.

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  9. #9
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    Originally posted here by The Duck
    I couldn't agree with you more nihil. In fact I have been trying to tell everyone this for quite some time. Everytime one of those stupid threads pop up (Windows vs mac vs linux) and the same stupid people spouting off about how windows sucks and how it's so insecure... I'm always saying the same damn thing... "Windows only SEEMS less insecure because there's A LOT MORE computers running windows.
    How many vulnerabilities have been discovered in IIS over the years vs Apache? Apache is used far more than IIS is. Your argument only holds so much water. When you examine the track records of various pieces of software, you begin to see that the number of vulnerabilities far outweighs the proportion of users.
    While not directly affecting the desktop, it does indicate that for a long time Microsoft's development practices left something to be desired. They seem to have gotten their act together with Win2K3 server (finally) and XP SP2 was a good step in the right direction, but only time will tell.

    It's all well and good to be the armchair theorycraft security hobbiest/researcher/whatever and make wildly baseless claims, but until you start finding vulnerabilities your ideas are still in the realm of theory.
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  10. #10
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    In other news,
    Micheal Dell would like to ship Mac OSX. What do you recon the chances of Apple licencing there OS to Dell are

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/06...ll_eyes_apple/
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