David Zeiler’s “The Mac Experience” column for the Baltimore Sun
posted last week quoted a spokesman for anti-virus software maker Sophos who said “a Mac has no more inherent security than a PC.” This comment raised the ire of Zeiler’s readers, apparently — he posted reactions from them in
his latest piece.
One reader — a software engineer by trade with experience programming OS X and Unix — told Zeiler that the degree of difficulty to create a Mac OS X virus “is at least 9.5 on a scale of 1 to 10.”
Several readers explained that Mac OS X is inherently more secure because of the way user accounts are managed, and the fact that Apple deactivates root-level access to the system by default. “Denied such access, the damage that any OS X malware could do becomes limited to the account of the user who runs it,” said Zeiler.
Readers also pinned the blame on Outlook, Microsoft’s own e-mail software, which makes it possible for Outlook to run any script that’s attached to an incoming mail. “Since the average user has no idea this feature exists, or even what a script is, they don’t know to turn it off,” one reader explained.
The comments caused the Sophos spokesman to beat a hasty retreat. “Still, even [Sophos PLC’s Graham] Cluley had to admit that Microsoft bore some of the guilt because of its ‘sloppy coding’ — a sentiment expressed by several readers of last week’s column — and that the open-source Unix core of OS X was, indeed, more secure,” said Zeiler.