With news of the Flashback Trojan impacting more than 600,000 Macs around the world, security related to Apple's Mac OS X platform has stepped back into the spotlight. Security researchers and software vendors are licking their lips over the potential business opportunity this situation presents.
Meanwhile, the situation has put Apple in a bad light because it appears it was slow to respond to the problem, since it is just now patching a 3-month-old Java flaw, and all the while, malicious hackers are laughing. It s a serious situation that should prompt more Mac users to pay closer attention to security.
But the Flashback Trojan is just one of many reasons Mac OS X security should concern all of its users. As nice as the platform is and as well as it runs it suffers from a number of potential flaws that can run amok in a person s life. Even worse, the software doesn t appear to be Apple's main focus, making some wonder if enough is being done to secure the platform.
It's a good time to examine Mac OS X security and find out once and for all why securing Apple 's operating system should be a priority for consumers and enterprise users.
1. It's more secure than Windows, but is that enough?
There's little debating that Mac OS X is more secure than Windows. However, being more secure than Windows does not mean that it s really secure. Apple will need to start thinking clearly about the quality of its operating system and realize that being more secure than Windows isn't enough.
2. Malware is present
There's a common misconception that Mac OS X malware is scarce in the wild. However, it does in fact exist, and as the Flashback Trojan shows, it s impacting people across the globe. For current Mac OS X users, accepting the fact that the operating system is vulnerable to malware is step one in making the operating system more secure.
3. Security firms aren't moving fast enough
Looking around the Mac App Store, it appears that there are few security companies that truly understand the importance of safeguarding the operating system. However, malware creators are moving quickly into the Mac security arena, and it's about time more security firms follow suit.
4. Apple hasn't made it a priority
It's tough to say that Apple has truly made security in Mac OS X a priority. After all, the company talks constantly about the new iPad, iPhones and its many other devices. But when does Apple go public with ground-breaking advancements in security? It s becoming a major concern for those who have been impacted by Mac OS X's security flaws.
5. Mountain Lion will apparently make things better
It's important note that Apple plans to make security a key component in Mac OS X Mountain Lion later this year. That operating system will come with something called Gatekeeper that Apple says will make the software the most secure version yet. But perhaps a better question might be: What is Apple waiting for?
6. User expectations are a problem
In the Mac OS X ecosystem, an adjustment of user expectations will need to commence at some point in the coming years. When people buy a Mac, they assume that they can do anything they want without any fear of virus infections or spyware. But they're wrong. It's about time Apple and every other prominent player in the Mac OS X ecosystem do their best to get Mac users to understand the danger.
7. Is Apple dragging its feet?
Perhaps the most worrisome issue about the Flashback Trojan is that it took Apple a whopping three months to fully patch it. What s worse, the patch didn't come down until people started complaining. Sure, it might have been a coincidence, but it might also have been a case of Apple dragging its feet. As Microsoft has learned, when it comes to security, foot-dragging is not an option.
8. More hackers are turning to the platform
There was a time when the vast majority of hackers around the world ignored Mac OS X. They figured there was no money to be made in that space, so they focused solely on Windows. That condition has changed. Mac OS X is now a hot destination for today's hackers and users should understand that.
9. Third-party apps are an issue
One of the biggest issues with Mac OS X security is that many of the security problems are caused by flaws in third-party applications. Applications like Flash, Adobe s other products and now Java are causing serious problems in the security space. Mac users need to be prepared to deal with these problems.
10. The word never gets out
Lastly, and perhaps most troubling, is that it doesn't appear that news about new Mac OS X security flaws ever leaks out into the mainstream. Too often, news of security issues only gets as far as the technology and security communities, and reaches the average Mac user only very slowly if at all. Let s hope that changes, or we ll all be in trouble.
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