The Macalope: Insecurity complex

The Macalope wonders if there’s a corollary to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines that says something about editors who don’t understand the details of an article but frame something as a question just to be on the safe side?

The San Jose Mercury News’s Jon Boudreau asks “Are Apple’s Macs becoming more vulnerable to malware?”

Are Macs becoming more vulnerable? No, they are not. Are they being attacked more? Most definitely. But they’re also far more secure now than they’ve ever been.

The biggest vulnerability to Macintosh computers is the belief among their devoted users that Apple’s (AAPL) superior operating system makes them immune to malware, experts say.

Oh, you know that wacky cult of Apple sheep and their weird views on the infallibilty of their desktop operating system! Wait, can sheep have religious views? Anyway, just who are these “experts”?

“Some Mac users have this perception that the Mac is free from hacks and that is completely wrong,” said Zheng Bu, senior director of research for Milpitas-based FireEye, which develops anti-malware products.

The anti-malware industry. Motto: “Be afraid. Be very afraid. It’s our business model.”

Now, it may be true that “some” Mac users believe Macs are invulnerable. Some also believe other things that are demonstrably false, like that the Earth is flat, that your kids are better off without vaccines, and that Nickelback is a good band.

Mac users, said Kevin Haley, Symantec director of product management for security response, “have let their guard down.”

Ah, someone else hustling security software says Mac users are clueless sheep in a world filled with wolves. The Macalope wonders what a security professional who isn’t trying to sell anti-malware software would have to say, like maybe Rich Mogull:

Over the past 7 years, especially the past 5+ since I left Gartner and could start writing for Mac publications, I have learned that Mac users care about security every bit as much as Windows users. I haven’t met a single Mac pundit who ever dismissed Mac security issues or the potential for malware, or who thought their Mac ‘immune’.

The disconnect, of course, comes from the way that Haley and other third-party anti-virus software vendors define “letting your guard down” as “not using third-party anti-virus software.”

The Macintosh operating system is “not a super system made by super people,” [Cloudmark’s Andrew] Conway added.

Gosh. Thanks for the analyst-splaining, dude. We all thought it was pure Kryptonian technology.

“Both Apple and Windows need to work closely with third-party (software makers) to make safer software,” he said.

Actually, what Apple’s done is to simply dump the third-party software by the side of the road and keep on driving.

Mac users are pretty much like users of other computer platforms. Are they perfect? Of course not. But they’re not mindless sheep in the thrall of Cupertino’s marketing. As for the white knight of third-party software, let’s let Mogull have the last word.

During the Flashback infection there were accusations that Mac users were too smug, or too ill-informed, to install antivirus software. But the reality is that antivirus tools offer only limited protection, and relying on antivirus for your security is as naive as believing Macs are invulnerable.

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