i stumbled across this article about why macs are still virus free and it occurred to me that there were a number of false premises that deserved highlighting to illustrate why mac users still think their beloved platform is so safe.
- the first thing i noticed was an ill-conceived notions of what a virus is (eg. "When I say virus I'm referring to a program which self-propagates and self-installs either by exploiting a back door in the operating system or another legitimate application"). by this definition most PC viruses (and i'm not using virus as a catch-all umbrella term here) are not actually viruses.
- next thing i noticed was the comparison of apples to fruit (eg. "So why don't Macs get viruses while Windows PC's seem to be facing a constant tsunami of malware, spyware, worms, trojans and botnets?"). compare mac viruses to pc viruses please, not mac viruses to pc viruses, worms, spyware, trojans, botnets, etc. either that or compare the gamut of mac malware to the gamut of pc malware.
- next on the list of wrong-headed thinking i picked up from that post was thinking malware authors are still just attention seekers (eg. " There are a lot of theories regarding install base and attention-seeking virus writers") when it has been demonstrated over and over again for the past several years that they're financially motivated now - the current trend is to follow the money.
- another bit of nonsense i noticed (which in fairness is bandied around by a lot of otherwise intelligent people) is thinking that going after the biggest group limits them to going after just one group (eg. "wanting to target the biggest market") when it has been demonstrated that professional malware gangs are targeting both platforms at the same time (see zlob gang).
- yet another wrong thought in the article was thinking that unix makes the difference (eg. "The real answer is UNIX") when in fact the first academic treatment of the virus problem (back when the term 'computer virus' was originally coined) had viruses successfully replicating across a user population in a professionally administered unix environment without cooperation from the admin.
- the most damning, however, is thinking in yesterdays terms. the very fact that they're still focusing on viruses rather than malware in general shows just how outdated the thinking really is. most of the malware currently attacking pc's these days is NOT viral (either by normal pc definitions, incorrect mac definitions, or formal definitions). furthermore viral malware isn't really the biggest malware problem these days. huge numbers of non-viral malware are the biggest problem facing pc's and the malware gangs have been targeting both pc's and macs for years now.
mac users have largely ignored the malware problem, which is probably why what little they know of the problem is generally either wrong or out of date. the malware problem isn't ignoring them, however. they have an opportunity to get ahead of the problem, but if they keep living in the past that opportunity will be squandered.