For years, Apple has claimed that Macs are unassailable to attack, while rebuking Windows as being filled with security holes. Now not only has a Trojan been able to infect Macs and create a botnet, but many famous researchers caution that the Mac’s Operating System is more vulnerable than both Windows or Linux.
There has been a lot of media hype recently about the detection of the world’s first Mac botnet. On downloading a pirated copy of iLife, Mac users found that their machines were corrupted by a Trojan which opens a port on the local connection hosts by acting as a back door.
While addressing the Trojan, Apple claimed that the chances of being infected by this virus is negligible. But the very fact of its existence, and a botnet run by it, proves that Apple’s declaration that Macs are impenetrable to attacks is simply false.
Hackers say that they find Macs less secure than their present Windows equivalent. They say the code quality, in terms of security, is superior in Windows. Apple has fallen behind as far as security is concerned in the last several years. This is largely because the spotlight has been on Window’s OS but not as much on Mac’s.
The general perception that Macs are invulnerable to attacks is fast changing. On the contrary, more people these days assert that Macs are far easier to exploit than Windows. The steps taken by Windows to ensure that it is harder for an exploit to work are not followed by Mac. This makes hacking into Macs so much easier as one does not have to jump hoops and deal with all the anti-exploit measures that can be found in Windows.
The security aspect also has to do more with the operating system than with the target program. Firefox on Mac is very easy to hack into. The underlying OS does not have built-in anti-exploit patches. Firefox on Windows is another matter altogether, rated one of the most secure browsers across all platforms.
There is another simple explanation as to why Macs are easier to hack into than Windows. Bugs that pop up on all platforms are mostly the same, but it is very difficult to write an application for Windows. Hence, it is equally difficult to write an exploit for Windows, making hacking Macs comparatively easier.
From the start, Mac has had a UNIX foundation. This is why several years ago Mac was more secure than Windows. But the latest kinds of Trojans can override all the UNIX protections and hence the edge that Mac has held over Windows has been nullified and Macs are now inherently less secure than the latest versions of Windows.
There is also the belief that Apple’s polished reputation has little to do with its hardware, but is all because of excellent marketing. It may be that the legend of the Mac’s superior security is more about marketing genius and less about actual facts.
So for those in the Mac community who are still under the impression that the Mac is invincible: Sorry to break it to you but that is a thing of the past.
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