updated 11:00 am EST, Mon December 31, 2007
Mac OS X a growing target
Apple's Mac OS X operating system -- which the company advertises as more secure than Microsoft Windows -- is coming under increased scrutiny by security specialists and underground crackers as the platform increases in market share. After repeatedly posting record quarters and announcing a growth rate well ahead of the personal computer industry in general, Apple is fast appearing on the radar of more and more hackers across the globe. Infoworld reports that "The days when you can assume that Apple's products are exempt from harm are over."
While attacks against Mac OS X and other devices like the iPhone are still rare, IDC analyst Chris Christiansen is warning Mac users of the growing threat.
"Most Mac users take security too lightly. In fact, most are quite proud of the fact that they don't run any security at all," Christiansen said. "That's an open door; at some point it will be exploited."
In 2006 the National Institute of Standards and Testing counted 106 'vulnerabilities' in Mac OS X, with 78 vulnerabilities appearing during the first six months of 2007. Those numbers compare to Microsoft's Windows XP, which had 55 vulnerabilities in 2006 and just 19 in the first six months of 2007. The recently-released Windows Vista, meanwhile, braved 19 vulnerabilities in 2007.
"Apple has better commercials, but the Mac is no harder to break into than a Windows PC," said Gartner security analyst John Pescatore. The analyst added that most IT departments can automatically patch large numbers of PCs simultaneously, while Macs usually require updates one at a time, according to Infoworld.