It can’t be good, right? After all, recent headlines scream out ‘Mac OS X has more exploits than Windows.’ Oh, really? Actually, when it comes to malware, there’s a simple way to check the difference between Mac users and Windows.
What Price Security?
Occam’s Razor is a principle of parsimony, economy or succinctness used in logic and problem-solving. Basically, among competing hypotheses, the one that makes the fewest assumptions should be selected.
So, let’s keep it simple. The prevailing wisdom is that Mac users don’t experience much malware because there are far more Windows PCs in the world.
That’s a simple hypothesis, right? And, Windows has fewer vulnerabilities than OS X. That’s simple, too, right?
How does one explain that most of the popular anti-virus scanner apps for Mac OS X are free? In fact, finding an anti-virus, anti-malware scanner on the Mac App Store that even has a price tag is a challenge.
Why? There’s just no market for malware apps for Mac users. Why? There just isn’t much malware for the Mac. Wait. Doesn’t OS X have more vulnerabilities than Windows?
Perhaps. It depends on who’s counting. The makers of malware scanning apps have a vested interest in drumming up a little fear, uncertainty, and doubt among the Mac community. Let’s keep it simple, though. A vulnerability does not an exploit make.
Just The Facts, Ma’am
The fact is this. It’s difficult these days to create and distribute malware for the Mac. Or, Windows (latest version). Both OS’s have never been more secure. Most of the malware that exists today is of the Trojan Horse variety, not viruses or worms (different animals). A Trojan Horse depends upon the user to propagate, and usually doesn’t travel on its own.
That brings me to another obvious point. Mac users are more discriminating computer buyers, therefore, malware makers target the path of least resistance– Windows PC users– more than the Mac.
The great unwashed masses of Windows PC users are an inviting target, regardless of the type of malware being used. Mac users, in general, are more educated, therefore, less susceptible to the tricks of the Trojan Horse trade, than less educated, less economically advantaged Windows PC users. Think suburbs vs. trailer park.
Worry not, Mac users. Be careful which web sites you visit. Uninstall Flash and Java from your Mac. Download and use a popular anti-malware scanner app from time to time (most are free). But don’t fret about security on your Mac. Steve Jobs is watching over you.