BBC technology writer Bill Thompson yesterday wrote a column in which he fretted that Mac users may have gotten a bit complacent about computer security. As our Windows-using brothers and sisters daily fend off all manner of attacks, viruses, worms, spyware and who knows what else, most Mac users blithely carry on, seemingly safe.
"These days Apple users are almost unbearably smug when the subject turns to malware," Thompson wrote, thereby opening the door to a flood of complaints that he was being an alarmist. Actually I think he's right. In fact, I've been downright smug myself at times when it comes to joking with Windows users about security on my various Macs. And what self-respecting Mac fan hasn't engaged in the age-old "security by obscurity" debate -- you know, the one where Windows fans say the only reason there aren't serious viruses for Macs is that malware writers don't care about such a small OS base.
Well, Thompson was back for round two today, when -- in a follow-up piece -- he spelled out exactly what he meant, and corrected a couple of minor mistakes in his original column. The fact of the matter is that while Mac OS X may be more secure because of its Unix underpinnings, no operating system is bullet proof. And he's doing us a service to remind us that somehow, some day, in some way, a nasty liitle bug might show up and cause a lot of problems for a lot of Mac users.
As he wrote today: "I believe that security through obscurity is no security at all, and that unless we have an open debate about the threats facing the Mac using community then we expose ourselves to danger."|
All of which is to say that telling ourselves we're safe because we use Macs, and paying no attention at all to security issues, is a good way to get burned.