Vnunet.com (Via A Symantec Hack) Says That Macs Are Just As Virus Vulnerable As PCs—Yeah, Right

Edited at 6 p.m. CST to fix bad link to vnunet story....

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Antivirus firm Symantec said that over three quarters of Mac users are under the illusion that they are not a target for virus writers and hackers.

James Middleton of vnunet.com, "Experts explode ‘Mac is saferi myth"

One of the things I was taught in journalism school was that you have to have at least two sources for a news story to be credible. And if you have a person making an assertion that can and will be contested, you must quote at least one representative of the opposing view. Also, I was always told that there are three versions to any story: his version, the other guyis version, and the truth.

Looks like our journalistic friends over at vnunet.com have ignored all of that J-school advice.

While most of us Americans were eating barbecue, drinking beer, and doing everything but paying homage to our war veterans, Observer jimbabb ran across a laughable piece of journalism from vnunet titled "Experts explode ‘Mac is saferi myth."

Hereis the gist of the article: A representative from Symantec (makers of Norton Anti-Virus) was quoted as saying that Macs are as prone to virus attacks as PCs. That should sell a lot more copies of Norton Anti-Virus.

Hereis what you need to think on: the article doesnit quote anyone else. The Symantec repis words are treated as gospel. The headline says "Experts," yet the article quotes only one guy, and how do we know that he is even an expert? He could be just a PR hack. Or the writer could just be quoting from a press release.

Hereis a few more thoughts for you to ponder

•Iive been using Macs since 1988, and have never — I repeat: NEVER — had a virus attack.

•Iive been surfing the Web all day, reading Instant Messages and e-mails from fellow Mac users, and have yet to read anything about these major virus attacks that Mr. Symantec is soapboxing about.

•I went to vnunet.com and did a search for articles on viruses. Not one of the many articles in my search results mentioned Macs. Instead, I got articles on Bubbleboy Virus, Porn Virus, Nimda Virus, a new virus in Windows 2000, Linux viruses, CIH Virus, Panda Global Virus, ad nauseam — all for the PC.

Now, Iim not ruling out the fact that Macs can get viruses, and that Macs are as vulnerable as PCs (especially now that OS X has command-line access and other exploitable vulnerabilities). But there is one difference between PC users and Mac users when it comes to viruses: PC users are pretty much guaranteed to be running some Microsoft products (Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.), which are prime catalysts for macro viruses and the other plagues that PC users suffer on a regular basis (one person just told me that he experiences at least two viruses a day on his PC).

Here are a few choice tidbits from this skimpy article:

• "In the past even the US Army has moved its web servers over to MacOS in the mistaken belief that they will be more secure."

Uh, if you read the article, you will see that this move had nothing to do with viruses.

• "[Kevin] Chapman [of Symantec] explained that, because of the Macis age, some of the first viruses ever written were for a Mac and some writers still target the platform specifically."

Mr. Chapman, could you name some of these viruses that specifically target the Mac, especially one that is new?

• "Another big problem Mac users donit think about is that they make perfect incubators for Windows viruses," said Chapman. "A Mac user can get a virus from a Windows machine that wonit affect them but, if itis attached to a document or a file, then they can pass it on to another Windows machine."

Now, this I can buy. But I donit see any harm in that. Actually, Iid call this a Good Thing. Just kidding, folks.

Furthermore, why ask an anti-virus software salesman if Mac users should buy more anti-virus software? This is basically what the reporter did. What do you expect him to say? The vnunet.com writer is an idiot at worst, and a sloppy journalist at best, for quoting the most biased source around on the necessity of getting virus software. Thatis as bone-headed as asking Microsoft if Linux is a viable operating system, or like asking a poor black American if the U. S. government should pay reparations to the descendants of slaves.

I could write a much longer rebuttal of this article, but even though there are many holes in this shoddy piece of reportage, it isnit worth the time. Nevertheless, Mac users should be warned of this vnunet buffoonery.

Actually, I have a theory about James Middletonis slipshod reporting: he still holds to the opinion that bashing Macs is an easy target for weak reporting bereft of any fact. If he really wants to help Symantec increase its anti-virus software sales, hereis what he needs to do in his follow-up article (accompanied by a retraction of this article): quote from someone other than a Symantec hack; talk to some of the Mac experts who cover the Mac community for a living; talk to someone from Apple Computer — in other words, the logical, usual suspects. If he does that, and can still write the same news story, it would then be believable.

Also, the brotha needs to quit assuming that we in the Mac press wouldnit have already spent considerable amounts of ink and bandwidth complaining about Mac viruses if they actually existed to the extent that his article implies. After all, we actually use Macs on a regular basis and know whereof we speak. Does he?

What do you think? Join the discussion on the "Mac virus myth" in our forums.

Read for yourself: "Experts explode iMacs are saferi myth"

Rodney O. Lain is a virus. When he isnit being downloaded onto PCs to wreak havoc on the Windows registry, he writes his "iBrotha" column for The Mac Observer as well as the occasional editorial. He lives in Minnesota, where he works for The Man at a Fortune 100 company and sells Macs on the side. Unlike Symantecis Mr. Chapman bias towards anti-virus software, Rodney isnit biased towards the Mac. No way. Uh-uh.

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