Windows alternatives are not as safe as they once were.


A post from an Apple thread encouraged me to pass on some things to hopefully raise awareness.

The post snippet:

0gre wrote:
If you are your own technical support and value your time at $0/ hour then Windows is an easy call. If you support family/ friends or don't feel like dealing with anti-virus and an unreliable OS then Apple is an easy call. I hate working on other people's computers so I bought wife/ daughters/ mother Macs and don't worry about it. Maybe I paid a bit more for those computers but the fact that I don't have to deal with supporting them more than makes up for the price difference.

That was certainly true. But it is changing fast.

Last year, information on writing rootkits for Mac OS X was presented at the Black Hat Security Conference.

A "proof of concept" iPad and smartphone rootkit demonstration.

An article on malware scanners failing mentions the systems of infected machines worked on. Of note are OS X and even Ubuntu Linux (2 years old, but still of importance).

Mac OS specific spyware.

Don't let yourself fall into a false sense of security people. As Windows security gets better, and alternate market share rises, (and let's face it, virus writers getting bored with focusing on Windows), all other OSs will be seeing a rise in malware.

Liberty's Edge

Absolute agreement.

Regarding OS X: you might be surprised what turns up on your hard drive. You should periodically reset PRAM and run a system repair command (repair disk permissions).

This deletes and rewrites sections of badness using the protected system files. When you do this, you'll notice that you're unable to access options like Back to My Mac, or network sharing because the computer closes itself off from anything that could access the protected sections. This is like a built-in AVP. The whole process usually takes from no time to a few minutes, depending on what issues your Mac might have.

Liberty's Edge

I actually found Ubuntu the easiest to support. I was right there helping my grandmother when her computer was infected by the Sasser Worm back in 2004. Ended up buying her a wireless router to firewall her system.

For 90% of people, all they need is a web browser, and occassionally a word processor or spreadsheet for real work. I find it takes only a few days for most people to get used to where things are.

One thing I'm really looking forward to is ChromeOS. A minimalist browser based operating system is even a better deal for those who don't do much with their computer.

For those who bring up Windows compatibility, the reality is very few people actually purchase software nowadays. Most people use whatever the computer came with. While I do see a demand for Microsoft Office from a lot of people. I have been able to convince the majority to use OpenOffice. In fact OpenOffice has been easier to recommend since Office 2007 came out since OpenOffice's menus are much more similiar to Office 2003.

Hardware wise, Linux rarely runs into compatibility problems, and tends to support older hardware much better than the newer versions of Windows.

Shadow Lodge

I'm a huge Ubuntu fan... good stuff.

As for security on OS/X and Linux versus windows, Everything can be hacked, I see it as a matter of not being the low lying fruit.

Also, I have never used Win 7 or Vista for more than 15 minutes so I speak from longer term experience. Maybe Windows is a lot more secure now, I've just been burned by Windows too much in the past to mess with it again any time soon.

Liberty's Edge

Windows did actually get better with security after Bill Gates sent an order making security priority one at Microsoft. The prototype of Windows Vista was delayed 2 years in order to concentrate on implementing security in Windows XP. The end result was Windows XP Service Pack 2 which was in its own way a new version of Windows.

Microsoft did stumble with initial compatibility and stability issues with Windows Vista, but Windows 7 came out of the gate smelling like roses.

There are limits in hacking into modern systems. The most common way is to exploit root access to a system, which is why Windows Vista impliments UAC to stop any attempts in its tracks. Ideally end users should have only limited access to system resources, but there are a lot of legacy applications which are finicky about this.

No matter what OS, its always better to keep fully patched, use strong passwords, and most importantly, educate users about internet safety.

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