Could Apple Fend Off Viruses If It Were In Microsoft’s Place?

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As the MyDoom virus continues making the rounds, surely many Mac users are gloating about the fact that other than a clogged mailbox, the virus is doing them no harm. Many like to point out that virus and worm writers ignore the Mac platform due to the small amount of potential victims, and that if the tables were turned, Mac users would see as many viruses, worms, and exploits as Windows users do now. Is that the case, though? Is OS X no better than Windows, but is coasting along on relative obscurity? In an article at BusinessWeek, exactly this topic is explored. From BusinessWeek:

The game changed for Apple when it upgraded from OS 9is fairly unique operating system to the Unix-based OS X. That meant any attack aimed at Unix machines could affect Macs. And plenty of virus and worm attacks have been aimed at Unix.

In short, now that Apple has Unix under the hood, Steve Jobs canit rely on security through obscurity. The argument that Apple is safer because of its marginal place in computingis cosmos no longer applies. With its embrace of Unix, Apple has joined a big family -- and it keeps growing, thanks to Linux and other open-source versions of Unix.

Within this family, though, Apple has a unique position. Itis the only decent-size maker of Unix operating systems designed for people who donit even know what Unix means. Sure, plenty of Mac users are tech-savvy. But lots of folks use Macs precisely because they donit want to have to learn anything more about technology than how to navigate graphical user interfaces.

Apple needs to protect these people from things that go bump on the Net, without requiring any of the tech knowhow usually required for messy Unix computer security. This isnit as easy as it may sound. Microsoft attempted a similar feat by merging its Windows consumer code with its Windows server code, also known as Windows NT -- and did a fairly poor job of it, judging by the latest virus problems.

There is much more information and thought in the full article at BusinessWeekis Web site.

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