Computer Crime Research Center


Macs can't get viruses?

Date: November 20, 2007
By: Lewis Leong

Windows is the most used operating system in the world, but what about at UC Irvine? Take a look around at your next lecture, and you’ll see that Apple’s OS X is the most used operating system at UCI, not Windows. This is not surprising considering that 80 percent of the UCI Computerstore’s profits come from Apple products. Since the upsurge of OS X users, there has been an increase in animosity toward Windows, which has resulted in the bullying of Windows users. Whenever I talk about computers, people never hesitate to belittle me for using Windows and persist in trying to convince me that Macintosh is superior to any PC. After listening to their arguments, I feel that I must clear up some common misconceptions about Windows and Microsoft.

1) Windows crashes all the time, unlike OS X. Windows does not crash all the time; otherwise, people everywhere would be throwing their Windows machines out of the window. Windows has only crashed on me a couple of times, but it was not the fault of the operating system. There were hardware issues, mostly with memory. It is true that OS X is stable, but I have also seen Mac users crash their systems, which means that they have been forced to quit numerous programs before they regained control. The moral of the story: No operating system is immune to crashing. People who have no idea what they’re doing will always crash their systems. The bottom line is that there will always be problems with computers and, in many cases, no one will know what’s wrong.

2) Macs can’t get viruses because they are much more secure than Windows. Though OS X is more secure than Windows in some ways, it is not because Macs are somehow immune to viruses. In fact, no operating system is immune to viruses. It is true that Macs get fewer viruses than Windows machines, but that is because hackers do not want to spend their precious time infecting an operating system that makes up only 2.72 percent of the computer market. A few months ago, a zero-day flaw that allowed hackers to gain full control of the victim’s computer via Wi-Fi was discovered in OS X. Fortunately, Apple promptly released a patch that fixed the issue. Windows users are in the crosshairs of hackers (the evil ones), and you should have anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall protection. Also, it is important to be smart, so do not click on sites that look questionable, and do not open attachments unless you trust the sender.Phishing has also become a major threat to both Windows and OS X users. Phishing is when someone constructs a Web site, that looks identical to a popular site such as MySpace, Facebook, or worse, your bank and steals your user name and password. This is why there are so many comments and bulletin posts advertising porn by people who would never endorse that sort of thing. One tip to spot phishing sites is to look at their addresses. If it looks phishy (forgive the pun), close it immediately.
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