The Macalope Daily: Mac attacks on the rise

As if the Mac Defender Trojan weren’t bad enough, now Mac users have to deal with another infestation. Yes, according to the Macalope’s research during the last week, Mac users are seeing a shocking rise in the number of straw man attacks against them.

Let’s start with ZDNet’s Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, who says that the good Mac users (who started using the Mac since the Intel switch) need to ignore the rest of us dangerous long-time Mac users, who may also be dope smokers (OK, he didn’t say that last part).

I’m truly staggered by the fact that people who have been around computers for decades and who are supposedly keeping their finger on the tech pulse are still clinging on for dear life to the notion that Mac is somehow immune of invulnerable to modern malware.

And the Macalope is staggered by people who assume those not running around with their hair on fire must be dangerous loonies with weird, made-up beliefs.

John Gruber, the guy behind the Mac site Daring Fireball says that those who dare to suggest that there’s a problem are crying wolf.

OK, Adrian, since you want to discuss allegories, let’s look at yours.

I’ve one word to describe these people who choose to ignore the real problems facing the modern Mac user and instead choose to live in the past - Dinosaurs.

Look around you, do you see any dinosaurs? No. Here’s why …

And then Adrian supplies a picture of a dinosaur-killing asteroid crashing into the Earth.

So.

According to Kingsley-Hughes, the more proper reaction is to treat this Trojan like it’s the end of the world. Good to know!

Let’s check out PCWorld. They’re usually funny.

Tony Bradley says Mac Defender crashes the “Apple security Myth.”

Apple, and the Apple faithful would like to pretend that Mac malware doesn’t exist.

Well, in our defense, it’s really easy, because there isn’t very much of it! But, personally, the Macalope likes to pretend he’s a train! Whoo-whoo!

A certain Apple loyalist recently called me—and a variety of respected tech writers—out for having the audacity to point out that Mac OS X is not invulnerable and that the potential for Mac malware is steadily rising.

That link is to Daring Fireball. So, let’s break this apart. Bradley is accusing Gruber of being incensed by the suggestion that:

  1. OS X is not invulnerable.
  2. The potential for Mac malware is steadily rising.

The first accusation is unmitigated crap. Here’s a post by Gruber from all the way back in 2004 called, not coincidentally, Crying Wolf, which was about the MP3Concept Trojan that a number of news sites trumpeted as the first Mac Trojan attack, despite the fact it was a proof of concept.

No one with any sense would ever claim that Macs are impervious to viruses, worms, or Trojan horses. Especially Trojans—which just about anyone with a 3-digit IQ could put together.

He does not believe Macs are invulnerable. To the Macalope’s knowledge he’s never said he believes Macs are invulnerable. Let’s move on to the second accusation, which is more to the point. The Macalope doesn’t want to put words in Gruber’s mouth but his reading is more “show me” than denial.

See, Gruber’s critics (well, this week’s crop of critics; the Macalope doesn’t want to make it sound like he only has a couple) love to link to that Wolf post (Ed Bott links to it every five minutes). None of them, however, mention the follow-up link to this post by Guy English:

In the story of the Boy That Cried Wolf the village ultimately paid the price for not being vigilant. The interpretation has always been to take it as a parable to improve personal behaviour but what I enjoy most about that tale is that it works both ways—there are two parties at fault: the attention seeker and those who took the cognitive shortcut of disregarding what the attention seeker was saying because they’d been wrong in the past.

Ohhh. When you put it like that, it sounds a little different. But, no, let’s pretend not to understand that, because then we can get in a few more whacks at the straw man.

Look, we don’t think Macs are invulnerable. It’s patently obvious they are not. As far as getting antivirus software, Charlie Miller, an honest-to-goodness Mac vulnerability expert, says it’s still probably not worth it for most people. But when there are free options, why not?

And Apple? Yeah, the Macalope completely agrees the company should be helping people clear this off their Macs and should do a better job getting in front of these things.

See, we agree on a lot. What we disagree on is the level of histrionics required in this situation. Is that so hard to understand?

[Editors’ Note: In addition to being a mythical beast, the Macalope is not an employee of Macworld. As a result, the Macalope is always free to criticize any media organization. Even ours.]

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