The Macalope loves his Macs. He loves their design. Their simplicity.
He loves their smell. Their touch. Their taste. Their warmth in the middle of the night.
And he loves it that they don’t force him to reinstall the operating system every X number of days to get rid of viruses and malware (maybe there are other ways around this, but the Macalope knows many Windows users who resort to this).
The Macalope started thinking about security the other day when he read this article on ZDNet Australia (antler tip to MacSurfer). He was all set to lay into it as part of his ongoing war against silly pundits, but the more he read, the more air was let out of his balloon of outrage (“Ballons of Outrage” come ten to a bag – ask for them by name at your local five and dime).
It’s true, there’s a lot to complain about in this piece. The lead-in referencing a system compromise that was only made possible by third-party software. The appearance of Artie MacStrawman (“OS X didn’t somehow, magically, prevent the attack as some users seem to think it’s capable of doing.”). The absurd idea that it’s “time to admit” anything, as if Apple should hang its head, kick at the dirt and say “I’m soooooorry”.
But, ultimately, there is a valid point there.
The single biggest contributing factor to the fact that Mac users don’t currently have to worry about security is that OS X has been less of a target than Windows because of its smaller installed user base. Mac users can go on and on about the inherent advantages of Unix-based systems over Windows, how Apple is perfect and good and the embodiment of the pure radiant light of joy that fills the universe, but that’s still the biggest factor.
Now, the Macalope enjoyed your Get A Mac ad where the PC has a virus and it only made him a little itchy around the haunches at the thought that it might raise the pale, pimply faces of hackers looking for a new challenge.
David Maynor and John (Johnny Cache!) Ellch certainly noticed. If they had decided to use their powers for evil rather than good (well, “good” isn’t really the right word… how about “self-promotion”?), then one guy in a Starbucks somewhere might have lost his user data.
Granted, Maynor may have had to shove him out of the way and replace his kernel with a custom one to make it possible but, look, the point is that there are a few important lessons to take away from the SecureWorks debacle. The biggest is don’t stick a verbal cigarette in the eye of a highly partisan user base, but another is hackers are starting to notice the Mac.
You, Apple, apparently did not get that message as yesterday you decided to take a long drag off that verbal cigarette and make it nice and hot.
Hey, it was great that you got out ahead of this and announced the problem before it was all over the Internet. And we all love a good jab at Windows – preferably something below the belt.
But shipping virus-infected iPods was your mistake. Not Microsoft’s. James “Randy” Abrams (the Macalope would rather not know how he got that nickname) is correct in saying:
The Apple iPod incident was not about Microsoft having a hardy operating system, it was all about security and process.
That Apple would blame Microsoft demonstrates a lack of understanding of remedial security and manufacturing processes. [The] virus was only a symptom of the problem. Apple didn’t know what they were shipping.
Of course the person who wrote the press release and the people who handle your vetting of third-party production controls are not the same. But from an organizational standpoint, the point is dead on. The comment was irresponsible.
So, speaking as a Mac user, Apple, the Macalope would really prefer it if you cut the crap. How about being the strong, silent type on security, hmm? No one needs any apologies (particularly Steve “iPod Users Steal Music” Ballmer). But it’s one thing to have someone else slap a “hack me” sign on your back and it’s another to put it there yourself.