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Windows vs. Mac: Which is Safer?

By February 5, 2010

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There's a fascinating article over at CNET, in which a reporter asks a bunch of security experts which operating system is more secure: Windows or Mac. She quoted them at length, and got some real insight, I think.

If I were to sum up the general gist of the comments, it's that you're at less risk of being hacked or attacked if you use a Mac. But not because Macs are inherently safer than the last two versions of Windows -- Vista and Windows 7. According to most of these experts, it's because of Windows' larger market share; you can simply do more damage (or get more computers on your "botnet" -- networks of computers that bad guys use without the knowledge of the users themselves).

Toward that end, I strongly encourage you to check out About.com's antivirus site. It's got tons of great information on keeping yourself safe on the 'Net.

Another interesting point was that the experts pointed to what they felt was the greatest avenue of risk, and it wasn't either OS, but instead, the web browser. This was true whether it's Internet Explorer on Windows, Safari on Mac, or Firefox or Chrome, other competing browsers.

Remember, whether you're a Windows or Mac user (and there's plenty of room for all of us!), you can keep yourself much safer by taking some standard precautions.

Comments
February 13, 2010 at 8:53 am
(1) John Butler, FSS says:

If the user has good AV software & firewall and acts prudently there is no difference in security between PC & Mac.
Perhaps Mac makes it harder for users to override security warnings?
John

March 11, 2010 at 12:10 am
(2) Ant says:

The idea that Macs are safer because of their smaller market share is nonsense. Apple’s market share is rising, and their customers tend to make more money with which to spend on their Macs. How many hackers out there would just LOVE to be the one to write a widespread virus for Macs just to wipe those smirks off of Apple fanboys faces? Yet, there has not been one single virus for OS X since it’s introduction in 2002. If people are out there writing viruses for iPods running the iPod Linux distribution (much more obscure), then I’m sure someone by now might have come up with something even resembling a virus for Macs. The fact is that UNIX-based OSes were designed from the start with security in mind, unlike Windows. It’s the difference between having your front and back door locked with a window open, and having every room in your house locked up. OS X users cannot allow anything to run without first enabling root user (something the casual user wouldn’t even know how to do) and give the virus permission to run. Hardly viral at all. Unlike Windows, which lets the first user have Administrator status, making it that much easier for viruses to take hold. Even if a virus were created for a Mac, it would be impossible for it to infect very many computers. Hackers know this, realize they’re foiled, and just say “smaller market share”. Bullplop!

June 10, 2010 at 6:37 am
(3) sqak says:

The Windows is suitable for both ‘tinkerers’ and ‘users’, while Mac is not. It is good and bad for both platforms. Windows has legions of tinkerers who are always there next door to help you out, if you have a problem, while god forbid if you have a problem with Mac.
To start with a comparable system from Mac costs about twice a similarly endowed PC. It is more like going to a fancy restaurant and blowing away your money on dishes which have similar quality of the fare provided by your neighborhood joint, but cost many times more. On the other hand the the tight control on quality maintained by Apple while discourages competition and lower prices, it also gives a slightly more reliable product, functionwise.
My uncle had to have his macbook keyboard replaced and had to pay through the nose the exorbitant charges, almost half a windows laptop would cost.
Windows on other hand encourages third party suppliers of hardware, thereby increasing competition and better prices. But it also has it’s negative impact that sometimes the third party hardware driver software is not properly tested and leads to problems.
Immunity from Viruses is a real advantage for Mac, whatever be the reason.
Windows is like a popular model of a consumer car, which comes in different packages to suit every pocket, is easy to repair as you can find a mechanic on every street corner.
Mac is like Rolls, which has a lot of snob value and is comparatively safer and more reliable. But when it breaks down, then you have had it.
The sheer speed of obsolescence in the computer industry needs capacity for frequent upgrades, or abandoning a system altogether and moving to a next level. Fow windows user it doesn’t burn as big a hole in the pocket as it is more conducive toparts upgrade, and even the new system will cost less. But for those who have deep pockets

February 3, 2011 at 5:43 am
(4) bekki taylor says:

i like cheesy bells

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