Mac OS X’s UNIX underpinnings mean the new operating system is more susceptible to hackers, but its open source roots may actually lead to better security. That’s the assertion of Michelle Delio, writing for Wired News. In a recent article entitled
Mac: Ripe for a Hack, Delio outlines some of the issues involved.
Chuck Wade of CommerceNet posits that the more an operating system opens its source code to the community at large, the better the chances are that problems can be identified and corrected quickly, before hackers can exploit them.
That depends, said Delio, on Apple’s willingness to “give back to the community.” The thought is that some open source code advocates won’t necessarily help Apple if it doesn’t share more of its crown jewels.
The carrots that some open source experts have recommended to entice more cooperation from UNIX experts are Apple technologies like TrueType, its scalable font technology, and QuickTime, the ubiquitous rich media delivery system. Although Windows versions of both technologies exist, they aren’t yet available for open source work — a thorn in the side of some open source fans who would like to make the technology work on Linux and UNIX.
One thing is clear — Mac OS X users definitely seem to be increasing their awareness of potential security risks in their new OS. Nicholas Raba of SecureMac.com told Delio that page impressions on his site — one of the few Web sites to focus specifically on Mac-related security issues — have increased since the March 24 debut of Mac OS X.
Apple’s staying fairly mum on the subject, said Delio, but the company says it’ll work with security companies and advisories offered by organizations like CERT to make sure to plug any holes that Mac OS X develops.
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