Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Is a Mac more secure than a PC running Windows?


Recently an article (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/5150508.stm) quoted a security vendor as advising users to consider switching to Mac for better security. Are Macs inherently safer? The real answer is that there is no scientific data to support a claim that the Mac OS is a safer OS than Windows, and the truth is that it really is not the issue.

I have a friend, “M”. M does not stand for Mac, M really is my friend’s initial. M is not what I would call a “great driver”. I also have another friend, “K”. K really knows how to drive a car. If you put M in a Mercedes or a Volvo, or some other car known for being really safe, and put K in a compact car, even an old Ford Pinto (with the explode-on-impact gas tanks) and want to get somewhere safely, I have to say you should ride with K. Now, we can take M and move him to the outskirts of town where there is less traffic. M will be safer there, but he isn’t a better driver for moving. When the city grows and the traffic comes to M, does M run (or drive) away in fear and move again? Does M just quit driving?

Sure, today Macs are less attacked, but switching from a Mac to a PC doesn’t make you a safer user. If you want to be secure online you will have to learn to make good choices about the web sites you visit, the software you install, and the attachments you open. Phishing attacks are equally effective on Macs. Social engineering tricks that make people run bad programs work well on Macs.
You can run away to a Mac today and probably be safer *today*, but if the traffic comes to you then the same risks will come with the traffic. If you become a safer user then you don’t have to run from Windows to Mac, to whatever when the traffic heads your way. Use the operating system *you* like and be a safe user in the environment of your choice. If you choose Linux or Windows then ESET has some really cool safety equipment for your operating system, but you still have to look both ways, steer, and sometimes apply the brakes as you navigate the internet.

Incidentally, K is what the insurance companies would tend to rate a high risk driver. K drives fast. One time K got a speeding ticket and went to “driving school”. K went to the school to prevent his insurance premiums from being raised. My friend M was the instructor! Scary, huh?

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