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More Mac Propaganda

I have a folder on my laptop called “Mac Propaganda”. It contains material in support of Macs (mainly against PCs) and I have labelled it “propaganda” mainly to remind me that it only shows one side of the story although I believe that story is still quite compelling.

A lot of the material goes back several years and many people think that the advantage Macs once had (yes they now admit that advantage existed although they never did at the time) has disappeared because PCs now are “just as good”. Of course this is nonsense. Many in the pro-PC crowd have said that Macs were better at one time but no longer are, and they are always wrong.

A recent report I read on ZDNet (definitely not known as a pro-Mac source) by David Morgenstern (a Mac writer but one who is also critical of Apple where appropriate) made the point that Apple devices are still more secure than their competition. This includes Macs versus PCs and iPhones and iPads versus Android devices. Many will either deny this by making a baseless statement like “Macs are just as open to attack as anything else” or by attempting to justify the problems with PCs by saying that “there are far more PCs so they make a bigger target”.

Regarding the first comment: I have never seen any evidence supporting this contention. It’s easy to make a statement like that, and I agree Macs clearly aren’t perfectly secure, but without any facts backing it up it has little credibility.

And for the second comment: PCs are far more numerous than Macs, I agree. But that can’t explain the virtual complete lack of malware on Macs and the huge number of different threats on Windows and Android. And even if it did, so what? Macs are far less affected by malware. Does the reason for that really affect the experience of the user?

So if these aren’t the real reason then what is?

The article points out that “So far, OS X has not fallen prey to any major, automated attack like the MyDoom virus.” and gives reasons such as “OS X is based on open source software such as BSD; many hackers have searched this software over the years looking for security vulnerabilities, so that not many vulnerabilities remain.” and “OS X turns off all routable networking services by default” and “the email and internet clients used most commonly on OS X do not have privileged access to the operating system and are less vulnerable to attack” and “Apple actively reviews the operating system and applications for security vulnerabilities, and issues downloadable security updates frequently.”

And a similar argument applies to iOS: “iOS is based on OS X and shares many of its security characteristics. In addition, it is inherently more secure than even OS X because each application is restricted in the files and system resources it can access.”

Plus there is the security of the managed environment in the Mac and iOS app stores. Although some say that that system gives Apple too much control over what software people can use and what it can do, it does undoubtedly provide a minimum level of security and quality in general. It’s a trade-off where Apple prefers good quality, secure software instead of the free-for-all in the Android world. Note that in a recent report over 60% of new malware affected Android, about 20% Java ME, and the rest other platforms. Apple systems didn’t even feature on the graph despite having a significant market share.

So I think it is undeniable that Mac and iOS users are unlikely to be affected by malware where for Windows and Android users it is a virtual certainty. In that way Apple products are superior. I think there is a further case to say that Apple devices are more pleasant to use, have a more elegant and consistent user interface, and suffer from less technical issues in general, but I have no firm objective evidence for that that is getting back to being just more Mac propaganda!

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