Apple Scales Back Security Ad Claims After Rash of Mac Malware
June 25, 2012 4:33 PM
comment(s) - last by
Flashback forced Apple to amend its boasting
No one does marketing spin quite like Apple, Inc. (
). Apple proudly promotes its OS X personal computer operating system on a special webpage describing supposed advantages of OS X. A subsection of that page is devoted to braggadocio regarding security. Writes Apple:
It doesn't get PC viruses.
A Mac isn't susceptible to the thousands of viruses plaguing Windows-based computers. That's thanks to built-in defenses in Mac OS X that keep you safe, without any work on your part.
The only problem with that comment is that of late Apple was
hit by Flashback
, a Trojan that
struck hundreds of thousands Macs
. Unlike past Mac malware, the Trojan exploited a vulnerability also found in unpatched Windows machines. But unlike OS X, Microsoft Windows' Java distribution had been
patched months before
After the wording was poked fun at by some critics, Apple begrudgingly changed it to:
It's built to be safe.
Built-in defenses in OS X keep you safe from unknowingly downloading malicious software on your Mac.
Apple also changes the humorous "Safeguard your data. By doing nothing." to "Safety. Built right in."
[Image Source: Apple via Sophos Security]
It's nice to see Apple finally acknowledging that Macs are not immune to malware -- particularly at a time when the population of infected Macs is
approaching that of Windows PCs
on a percentage basis. But it remains to be seen whether Apple's most zealous fans who long parroted its claims to frustrated Windows and Linux users take note.
Recent reports have indicated Apple is approximately
a decade behind Microsoft
) in security.
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RE: PC Virus?
6/26/2012 1:40:26 AM
This is a legacy usage that derives from a brilliant marketing campaign back in the early 80s.
Several micro-computers where on the market in 1980 and were marketed as 'personal' computers.
IBM entered this market with the Model 5150 better known as the IBM PC. Later iterations were the IBM PC-XT, IBM PC-AT and IBM PC jr.
IBM compatible computers were commonly called PC compatible due to the IBM naming of these early models. Other companies used their various trademark names leaving IBM compatibles in sole possession of the "PC" designation. Apple had the Apple II/Apple III, and Macintosh (better known as Mac), Commodore had the C-64, C-128 and Amiga, Atari had multiple computers for personal use and marketed by model name.
In time, PC became the exclusive designation of the Microsoft compatible x86 computer designs. Everything else was known by their respective trademark names. Collectively all these small single user computers are personal computers, but PC was a trademark that still applies to Wintel compatible computers including several models that are definitely not 'personal computer' types.
The Jaguar is a personal computer (Atari ST variant) but is not a PC
The Amiga 500 is a personal computer but is not a PC
The Compaq Presario is both a personal computer and a PC (MS-DOS/Windows)
The Commodore Colt is both a personal computer and a PC (MS-DOS/Windows)
The Mac (pre x86 models including Lisa) is a personal computer but is not a PC
x86/x64 Macs are quite often Wintel PCs running OSX. Technically these Macs are PCs due to the Windows & Intel compatibility but share immunity to Windows viruses with Linux and other non Microsoft OSes due to incompatibility with Windows software. A Microsoft Windows OS is generally part of the PC definition today. Just as PC-DOS or a PC-DOS clone was a part of the definition prior to retirement of that OS.
They are perfectly correct in saying that Macintosh computers in general & OSX in particular do not support Windows viruses or malware. The differences in the operating systems requires Mac/OSX versions of the malware. The exceptions are web based attacks that target cross-platform flaws in 3rd party applications and do not inject OS specific code. These attacks technically are not Windows malware, so the statement that OSX is immune to Windows viruses by design remains correct :D
Of course the end users who are trying to figure out why Apple is recommending security fixes for malware couldn't care less for the careful parsing of the copy writers. All they care about is removing the OSX malware from their OSX system and patching the holes in 3rd party applications that allow platform agnostic web based attacks to succeed.
In addition to the "secure by design" and "immune to Windows malware" Apple has for years recommended and sold anti-virus software tailored for OSX malware in Apple stores. Ironic that a company marketing malware immune computers recommends anti-malware software to install on those same computers :P
RE: PC Virus?
6/26/2012 2:46:15 PM
WOW! the Computer museum curator answer...
RE: PC Virus?
6/26/2012 11:32:40 PM
Or you can say it in one sentence.
Macs aren't affected by PC malware because "PC" is an inaccurate naming convention that refers to the IBM PC platform that began with the original IBM personal computer and continues to today's machines running Windows, as opposed to Mac software.
"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein
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