Commonly referred to as worms, Trojan horses, malware, spyware, and adware, these “viruses” are all written to disrupt and exploit vulnerabilities within your computer operating system. If you’re running Microsoft Windows, which according to market-share data most people are, your troubles may be only moments away. But does that mean Apple computers are safer than PCs?
Many argue that because PCs dominate the market share (Gartner Inc., the leading information technology research and advisory company, says more than 70 million PCs were shipped in the first quarter of 2008) it’s only natural that people writing manipulative code would attack the general population. And industry insiders agree.
And some will say it’s only a matter of time before Apple gains enough market share for hackers to begin exploiting vulnerabilities within its Mac OS and applications. But until then it’s going to be your safest bet in protecting your business’s security.
The “Global Internet Security Threat Report,” released by Symantec, a leading security software firm, states that in 2007 it detected 1,122,311 new malicious code threats, an increase of 468 percent over 2006. These threats grow as virus writers continue to attack the general dominance of PC-based operating systems and applications such as Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Outlook, Internet Explorer, and more.
Apple’s low market share, 6.6 percent according to Gartner, isn’t the only reason it’s able to keep a clean bill of health. Its UNIX-based file system and kernel allow users to only run executables within its protected space and its own directories, meaning its security natively blocks the user from accessing and making changes to the operating system environment. Also, Apple manufactures and regulates both the software and the hardware for every machine it produces, whereas Microsoft does not produce its own hardware. So the PC, the sum of multiple parts and players, starts its virus-fighting life cycle with a handicap.
Although Microsoft has been the target of many technology writers and experts because of its continued problems with security holes and exploits, the person sitting behind the PC is also partly to blame. Employees disable firewalls due to their inconvenience, critical Windows patches never get installed, and end users open e-mail attachments or click links that infect their PCs. Like a PC, in business you are only as good as the sum of your parts.