Broken “Windows”

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There is a not so recent arti­cle that does a great job of explain­ing why OS X is more secure than Windows. It uses the clas­sic “bro­ken win­dows” the­ory of urban decay, applied to the com­puter realm. The extreme secu­rity of the Mac has very lit­tle to do with mar­ket share. “Windows has more viruses than OS X because more peo­ple use it” just does not work. If that were the case, you would expect a rel­a­tive per­cent­age of viruses on OS X, but the num­ber of viruses, spy­ware, key­log­gers, and remote-controls is not pro­por­tional to the num­ber of com­put­ers run­ning OS X. No, it is effec­tively zero (when you sub­tract a cou­ple of laugh­able proof-of-concept “viruses” that antivirus com­pa­nies pro­duce and point to in order to drum up busi­ness.) The Mac com­mu­nity is pretty vocal and has zero tol­er­ance for these kinds of shenani­gans. On top of that, you can add the tech­ni­cal rea­sons: OS X has some good com­part­men­tal­ized secu­rity and really has no place for viruses to hide. There is no labyrinth of reg­istry trees. There is no way to sneak in a nefar­i­ous dri­ver. Heck, the Unix under­pin­nings even pre­vent one from open­ing a low-numbered port or writ­ing to the /bin or /etc fold­ers with­out explic­itly authen­ti­cat­ing as the root user. As OS X gets more mar­ket share (that’s not an “if” state­ment, but a “when”), I think we will con­tinue to see the virus/spyware/keylogger/DDoS-client count remain a con­stant zero.

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