100,000 to 3
Normally if the score is 100,000 to 3 you would want to be on the 100,000 side. But in the case of major malware threats, you want to be on the 3 side.  Which, right now, is where Mac OS X users are.  Despite 3 highly-publicized threats in the past week, including a new one yesterday (see below), we’re still way behind (or ahead, depending how you look at it). But I guess when your team finally puts a number on the scoreboard, especially after trailing 100,000 to zero, it’s big news. So that’s why you’re seeing so much in the papers about the recent threats.
It was, however, just a matter of time before Team Mac OS X started putting up some numbers. There’s no question that, from a security point of view, the Mac is much, much better than the competition, but we’re not 100,000-to-zero better. As the competition started ringing up more and more “runs,” the huge score differential was bound to start attracting, not only more and more Mac users, but also more and more attention. So our side has started to take a few “hits” recently as well. But we’re still so far behind it’s not even funny.
The problem with being this far behind is that most of the Rest of Us have gotten complacent. So one good aspect of the recent press frenzy is that it’s causing at least some of us to wake up a bit and realize that the Mac isn’t invulnerable. As an additional case-in-point, yesterday a serious vulnerability in the Safari Web browser was uncovered by a German site. The same site later figured out that a similar vulnerability exists with the Mac OS X Mail app.  In case you’re wondering, a “vulnerability” is not a trojan horse, virus or worm, but simply a flaw that can theoretically lead to one of these, or simply to other bad things happening to your computer. In this case the vulnerability could cause bad things to happen simply by clicking on a malicious Web link in Safari (which most of us use in Mac OS X).  Safari has had similar vulnerabilities uncovered before, and Apple has fixed them fairly quickly.  Hopefully they’ll do so with this one as well. In the meantime, a number of workarounds are possible.
As a related aside, I just wanted to mention, and link to, the excellent analysis of last week’s virus done by the guys at Macworld magazine.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006