Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

2/1/2010
07:05 PM
Jake Widman
Jake Widman
Commentary
50%
50%

Mac vs. PC Security Not The Real Question

The argument over whether Macs are more secure than Windows PCs may never be resolved, but it's no longer the relevant issue, according to a survey of security experts.

The argument over whether Macs are more secure than Windows PCs may never be resolved, but it's no longer the relevant issue, according to a survey of security experts.Apple likes to tout the resistance of its computers to viruses and other malware, as compared to Windows PCs, and by the numbers they're right. There have been almost no Mac-attacking viruses and only a few Trojans reported in the wild, and most Mac owners have never encountered one. Compare that to the experience of PC users, whose computers can be brought to a standstill in a matter of hours if left unprotected on the Internet.

Whether that's due to the inherent security of Mac OS X or just the fact that there are so many fewer Macs out there that they make a less attractive and lucrative target has been debated for years. I'm skeptical that the lower number of Macs can account for the whole difference, as I've written before. But a group of security experts surveyed by Elinor Mills at CNet, while they mostly buy the "smaller target" theory, tend to agree that it's no longer an important question. Malware distribution, phishing, and other online attacks are relying more and more on social engineering and related tricks to get their victims to expose their machines or compromise their businesses' security measures, as seen in the recent cyberattacks on Google and other companies. As Sophos' Graham Cluley tells Mills, "I would argue that an Apple Mac user wanting to watch the 'Erin Andrews Peephole Video' is just as likely to download a bogus browser plug-in to help them do that, as a Windows user. And it doesn't matter that Mac OS X will ask them to enter their username and password to install the plug-in -- they want to watch the video, they will enter their username and password."

More From bMighty:

So the vulnerability in any business, PC-based or Mac-based, is the user. Frank Heidt of Leviathan Security tells Mills, "Operating systems as such are no longer the primary target of consumer-targeted attacks; applications are..The real risks lie in the consumer's browser choice, and security habits." Heidt specifies consumers, but the same rule applies to businesses.

And that means the real risk for Mac users is complacency. The way to guard against lax users is through firm security policies and education of your staff. As Security Solutions CEO Monte Robertson told InformationWeek SMB last February, "You could say, 'Don't open e-mails; don't download software,' but it needs to be done. People need to know how important the company's data is. Have a security policy that outlines everything from the tools you use to policies you follow -- and that identifies all the layers of security. It takes a lot more than just software to protect users from themselves."

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
News
Inside the Ransomware Campaigns Targeting Exchange Servers
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/2/2021
Commentary
Beyond MITRE ATT&CK: The Case for a New Cyber Kill Chain
Rik Turner, Principal Analyst, Infrastructure Solutions, Omdia,  3/30/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-23281
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
Eaton Intelligent Power Manager (IPM) prior to 1.69 is vulnerable to unauthenticated remote code execution vulnerability. IPM software does not sanitize the date provided via coverterCheckList action in meta_driver_srv.js class. Attackers can send a specially crafted packet to make IPM connect to ro...
CVE-2021-27598
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
SAP NetWeaver AS JAVA (Customer Usage Provisioning Servlet), versions - 7.31, 7.40, 7.50, allows an attacker to read some statistical data like product version, traffic, timestamp etc. because of missing authorization check in the servlet.
CVE-2021-27600
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
SAP Manufacturing Execution (System Rules), versions - 15.1, 15.2, 15.3, 15.4, allows an authorized attacker to embed malicious code into HTTP parameter and send it to the server because SAP Manufacturing Execution (System Rules) tab does not sufficiently encode some parameters, resulting in Stored ...
CVE-2021-27601
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
SAP NetWeaver AS Java (Applications based on HTMLB for Java) allows a basic-level authorized attacker to store a malicious file on the server. When a victim tries to open this file, it results in a Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) vulnerability and the attacker can read and modify data. However, the attac...
CVE-2021-27602
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
SAP Commerce, versions - 1808, 1811, 1905, 2005, 2011, Backoffice application allows certain authorized users to create source rules which are translated to drools rule when published to certain modules within the application. An attacker with this authorization can inject malicious code in the sour...