Malware, Macs, and crying wolf: Doing the math

Love Apple gear? Like math? TUAW's Doing the Math series examines the numbers and the science that lie behind the hardware.

The contentious subject of Mac security has been back in the news in recent weeks following the emergence of a fake antivirus package called MacDefender (also known as Mac Security and Mac Protector) that managed to steal a number of users' credit card details, and a new piece of "crimeware" called Weyland-Yutani BOT which allows non-technical hackers to easily create password grabbing webpages that specifically target Mac browsers.

This prompted a fresh round of "the Mac is under attack! Malware will drown us all! Exclamation!" blog posts, followed by the usual backlash against them. On the alarmist side, Ed Bott wrote "Coming soon to a Mac near you: serious malware", predicting doom, gloom, and dogs and cats living together.

The case for the defence was eloquently made in an article entitled "Wolf!" by Mac uber-blogger John Gruber where he simply collected assorted "Mac malware is inevitable" quotes from prominent analysts... going back to 2004, and all clearly unfulfilled in the sense of widespread attacks or exploits in the wild. Bott responded with a thoughtful post where he made a more reasoned case that malware for Macs really is inevitable in the long run, regardless of how inaccurate previous predictions have been.

So who's right, and who's wrong? Is it time to run to the hills or are people just sounding the gong of panic unnecessarily? In this post I'm going to try and dive a little deeper into the issues surrounding Mac malware, hypothetical and real, and separate the headlines from the facts.

Continue reading Malware, Macs, and crying wolf: Doing the math

Malware, Macs, and crying wolf: Doing the math originally appeared on TUAW on Sat, 14 May 2011 12:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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