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PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:00 am
by Gordon Laing
I've made this thread sticky and renamed it as the Mac vs PC discussion comes up quite often - and I think this one so far has been very useful and well-balanced.

Remember to keep it civilised though!

PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 1:24 pm
by swame_sp
Gordon, thanks for making this sticky.....

I have seen that Xp affected by spywares quite often than the Vista, (my exp in Vista is very less).... I've not seen Mac users reporting this. :(

Is that the same in reality? Or dont they go to the sites that throws a malware towards them? :?

Arent the mac users not over paying the hardware specs or Is it like what you get is what you pay for? :?: :?:

PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 2:30 pm
by Citruspers
Well Swame, Vista has some security features XP does not have, but is still nowhere near immune to malware.

The reason the mac has less viruses is not that it's more secure, but that it has way less marketshare (~8% to windows' 80% or more). Therefore it is way more attractive for hackers to target windows, since it's more widely used.
However, times are changing and the mac is getting more and more popular. the problem is Apple always misleadingly advertises their system is immune to malware (which, trust me, it's not), so mac users are way less aware of the dangers.

Opinions differ about mac hardware, but the general idea is mac hardware is overpriced, and I can heartily agree to that. I can build a system with the same specs for 1/3 or less the price of a mac system, however, you don't get the mac operating system or the good looking hardware.
It all depends what you want and expect from your computer.

Want it to be simple, and not very customizable and look good? Get a mac. Want a cheaper option and more customizable system, at a tradeoff of more problems: get a PC. ;)

PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 3:00 pm
by swame_sp
Oh.... I thought they are too safe and thought of taking the Mac Way.

I really dont want to opt for them if they are marked as a status product. If it delivers a good output, I could really put a hole in my wallet. But if not then I should have to think on it again.

My situation is I'm saving money for a DSLR (probably D90), and I would like to do some photography edits nothing near to pro but just a small touch. I'm not interested on the Music and Video editing offered in Mac. Main stuff should be this photography and I listen to loads and loads of my native music. I have about 5000 MP3 songs in my collection. I also download lot of comical Movies from torrents...

I was only thinking of this Sexy Inspiron Studio 16 for 1100$. Suddenly my manager started to say as if Mac rules the world (which I really dont believe)....

So before buying SLR I need to get a laptop.... This is how my things are as of now.... :)

PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 9:25 pm
by luis
Citruspers wrote:The reason the mac has less viruses is not that it's more secure, but that it has way less marketshare (~8% to windows' 80% or more). Therefore it is way more attractive for hackers to target windows, since it's more widely used.

Could you please elaborate on that? Specifically, could you name one virus for the mac?

And why isn't Leopard more secure than XP or Vista? Is it because it's based on unix? Are unix systems, in your opinion, insecure?

PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 10:12 pm
by Citruspers
Allright, MAC viruses:

Elk Cloner
MDEF / Garfield
Sevendust / 666

Not to mention multiple carpetbombers, the Safari bug to name one in particular.

Enough viruses/trojans/worms? Apple even issued a warning that users should run antivirus software, contrary to what they claim in advertisements. They removed the page after a couple of months though.

On the topic of *Nix: every system has it's vulnerabilities. The unix, linux and BSD kernels are just as vulnerable to buffer or stack overflows as the windows kernel is. The windows and apple kernels are proprietary though, whereas the linux kernel is open source, which means everyone can point out errors in the code (which happens a lot), which result in a lot of updated packages each month. Windows patches are issued in a cycle, every 2nd tuesday of the month to be precise. Ever noticed the majority of viruses are unleashed just after that day? ;)

That being said, I run both windows and linux, and I'd run OSX if it let me customize it a bit more, instead of force Steve Job's will upon me (I'm a power user, I want and need full control).

And remember: the mind is the best antivirus, and I've found windows users are generally more security concious/aware, where most mac users I've spoken to have this arrogant "oh my mac can't get viruses" mindset. Sad but true.

Disclaimer: I have not spoken to every single apple user out there. I'm sure there are security concious members too. I just found the majority to be ignorant or misinformed.

Credibility note: I'm an aspiring system administrator with a passion for computer security. I follow hacking sites, read whitepapers and try out 0-days for myself on my test machine.

Concluding: no, OSX is in no way less secure than windows, and I never claimed such thing. What I said was that macs are just as (in)secure as every other alternative out there, but because of it's larger marketshare, windows is the big target. Mac's are gaining marketshare, and that ignorant/arrogant no-need-for-antivirus will eventually backfire immensely to users who just don't know. Information is key, and all Apple is doing is misinforming their users and lying about windows.

that is all ;)

PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 12:14 am
by Bob Andersson
Citruspers wrote:...And remember: the mind is the best antivirus,...

Nice post, and I totally agree. As yet no computer has any inherent sense of the goodness or the badness of the programs it runs. We all need to sit behind a bombproof firewall to stop the uninvited nasties getting in but most of us, and I definitely include myself in this, need the extra protection of a Security Suite to stop the stuff we mistakenly or inadvertently invite into our computers from harming us. But, almost by definition, as such protective software is never perfect then, as you imply, the mind is the ultimate safeguard.


PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 10:22 am
by keystrokesuk
If you want to take everything to basics then there is NO difference Mac OS, Linux and Windows essentially do exactly the same job, provide an interface between people and computers.

Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Pentax et al make cameras which at the end of the day do exactly the same job. If you were to look at an image from any camera you can judge it on the result not how it was achieved. Does it make the tools used to produce it any better or worse than any other manufacturers?

If the tools you have allow you to perform the task you want then they are the perfect tools for the job. you can drive a Ferrari or a Mini. They will both get you from A to B and (if you stick to the speed limit) in the same time.

It is only when you start to get into details that the water gets muddy. I would say apply the same advice to computer purchase as the forum regularly gives camera purchases. Go into a shop and hold (play with) the thing you want to buy. If it feels right for you, then it is.

PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 10:32 am
by grahamnp
UNIX is generally more secure than Windows. No, OSX is not infallible but the fact is that they are targeted far less often and the chances of being affected by malware are much lower because they are less attractive targets and because of the way OSX (and Linux) is designed. It should remain this way until OSX gets more popular and surpasses Windows as the majority but anybody that says OSX is not affected by malware is wrong.

PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 7:04 pm
by swame_sp
Very well informed about the malwares at MACs. Thanks Citruspers.... I appreciate it.

Yes I understand that OS X is equally fragile to their competitors.mmm... MAC irresponsibly claims they are highly immune to viruses.... :roll:

As the user "keystrokesuk" has said, it is upto the personal choice now as both MAC and PC are equally malleable....

How about the aftermath of these malwares or viruses? Does the kind of loss is equal in both of them, I mean the extent of damage? :?:

Kindly bear with me for questions, I'm at the final point to buy a Laptop no issues either it is MAC or PC... If it is going to be MAC, I might be holding it tight for some time even during sleep as this is my first MAC :D else it would be just another compare as I almost spend half of my day with a PC.... :evil:

Hope you guys do not mind....

PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 10:05 pm
by Citruspers
If you have the money for a mac and the mindset to use an antivirus, by all means get a mac. You'll get the lesser market share advantages and disadvantages though.

PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 5:57 am
by pgtips
Contrary to what is generally believed in the popular tech press, Vista is a lot more secure than the Mac.

Vista utilises the NX bit and has something called ASLR to prevent arbitrary code execution which is essential in buffer overflow exploits. Leopard (and AFAIK Snow Leopard) do not contain a similar feature. XP was and still is a nightmare from a security standpoint.

Macs are a joy to use though. The OS handles multitasking better than Windows. My dual core Acer laptop is not as responsive as my G4 Powerbook (6 years old now). The Powerbook loses out in pure performance so if you were doing a batch RAW conversion it would be faster on my dual core Acer. However, if you were doing a batch RAW conversion and you wanted to switch windows the Powerbook holds it's own and actually feels more responsive. I imagine this would be a lot more pleasant on a new Mac.

Both PCs and Macs make good computers. Buy one that fits your wallet :).

PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 9:02 am
by Bob Andersson
Although oddly enough on a fresh install (Vista x64 in my case) Data Execution Prevention is only turned on for essential Windows stuff. I find that enabling it for everything causes no problem for 99% of the apps on my machine and for those few that do generate an exception it's very easy to disable DEP on an app by app basis after carefully reviewing where the app came from.


PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 10:43 am
by Citruspers
That's a good point Bob, but I don't see my mom adding exceptions for DEP ;)

About the ASLR, isn't that the memoryspace random allocation to further prevent buffer overflows?

PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 11:39 am
by pgtips
Citruspers wrote:About the ASLR, isn't that the memoryspace random allocation to further prevent buffer overflows?

It doesn't prevent buffer overflows, since those can and do happen. What it does is prevent you from knowing the memory addresses for OS related functions as these get randomized every time you boot up. So while buffer overflow exploits can happen, you end up corrupting some random area in memory instead of gaining access (and thus exploiting) the OS.