I’m watching the constant blather regarding Mac Defender and Mac malware in general with an ever-rising sense of utter disgust. From John Gruber’s brief to the point of inscrutable Wolf!, to Ed Bott’s increasingly masturbatory series of posts the blog buzz is all about “malware” and with a few exceptions it’s all pretty much bullshit. The problem is that the entire conversation around secure computing has been — again with some exceptions — completely poisoned by years of worthless crap from pundits, press and vendors alike.
So, who’s to blame for the sorry state of commentary about computer security? Let’s start with the vendors. For years Microsoft and Apple have, to greater or lesser extents, attempted to produce an operating system that is “immune” to the ravages of malware. In doing so, they (along with so-called computer “experts”) have deluded the masses into thinking that such a thing is even possible. It’s an unavoidable fact that no computer operating system can ever be made immune from malware as long as human beings are interacting with them.
Take, for example, the new bogeyman on the block: Mac Defender. Mac Defender exploits nothing more than Apple’s ill-thought-out default option to open “safe” files after downloading and (ironically) the average user’s terror at the thought of viruses. Mac Defender is based purely on social engineering, and there is no amount of operating system security that can work around that. Further, Apple and Microsoft have both conditioned their users to blithely click though warnings and nonchalantly enter their admin passwords at the slightest provocation. Until all operating system vendors begin to focus on keeping their users safe rather than on making the OS secure attacks like this will only increase.
Also worthy of our ire are the pundits and so-called experts who for years have treated malware attacks as a way of counting coup in the Great Operating System Wars. Every MacMac who grinned smugly at the epic cluster-fuck of malware for Windows XP, every jackass Windows pundit rubbing their hands with glee at the thought of the glorious day when the Apple “fanboys” would get their comeuppance, every chortling neck-beard who tediously explains that “trojans aren’t viruses” and that malware which only erases a user’s files doesn’t matter.
On the behalf of the average computer users of the world I say this: Fuck the whole lot of you.
Hopefully the press, pundits and vendors will pull their collective heads out of their asses and begin to have a rational discussion about how to keep users safe from modern security threats. Until that day we’ll continue to be subjected to a non-stop barrage of shitty articles and smug assholes. And actual users will continue to suffer.
I’ll close with two quasi-random comments that epitomize the bullshit. First, from the Macworld article linked above:
When you say, ” … Windows 7 is actually more secure than OS X … “, that’s a pretty bold statement considering there’s no sources or evidence shown in the article to back that up. If Mac OS X had worse security than Windows 7 then we’d surely see more than a few viruses spreading wildly on Mac OS X after over a decade.
Marketshare is too low, you say as a so-called security expert? Sorry, that doesn’t fly. Mac OS 9 had over 40 viruses in the wild when Apple had far less marketshare. So that destroys your marketshare incentive myth right there. There was incentive to make viruses for the Mac when it had much less marketshare than it has today. Mac OS 9 had an inferior architecture to Mac OS X for security. Very much like how Windows has an inferior architecture to Mac OS X for security.
Gee… maybe it has something to do with UNIX underpinnings in OS X? Research is your friend.
To blindly state that Windows 7 is “actually” more secure than OS X isn’t factual and is simply spewing link-bait instead of practicing decent journalism. Sad.
Meanwhile, for jeebus sake there is THIS “MS Removal Tool” that can hijack your Windows computer without ANY interaction whatsoever. Read about that and then see if your “bold”, link-bait is anything but laughable.
And here’s a gem from one of Ed Bott’s crap-bags:
I pity the dumb Mac users who don’t know anything about keeping your computer safe. But, as it has always been said, a computer is only as secure as the user. And most Mac users I have talked to think attacks on Macs are impossible. Even Apple stores don’t recommend putting anti-virus on your Mac because it isn’t required. Oh how that will be changing so soon.
Seriously, fuck the whole lot of you.