June 27, 2012, 11:28 AM — Perhaps Apple was hoping nobody would notice the somewhat subtle changes in the language on its "Why you'll love a Mac" webpage. After all, "It doesn't get PC viruses" and "It's built to be safe" are both reassuring messages. Not all that much difference between "Safeguard your data. By doing nothing," and "Safety. Built right in," right?
Wrong. Security experts, starting with Graham Cluley of Sophos, noticed it, broadcast it and pronounced it a very big deal. Writing on Sophos' Naked Security blog, Cluley pointed out the changes and surmised that since "one particular piece of Mac malware [the Flashback botnet] had infected 600,000 Macs worldwide, including 274 in Cupertino," the claim that Macs don't get viruses, PC or otherwise, was seriously compromised.
"People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones," Cluley wrote, adding that the tweaking of the wording, along with the company mentioning malware at a WWDC keynote address, amounted to "some important baby steps" in acknowledging that Mac malware is a reality and that Apple customers must do more than "nothing" to keep their machines safe.
Preston Gralla noted at Computerworld: "That marketing change may not strike you as substantial, but coming from Apple, it's a big deal. Apple has long denied any security problems with the Mac, detailed evidence to the contrary."
Other Apple critics gleefully piled on. Mihaita Bamburic, writing at BetaNews, said what he and others have been saying for years: The only reason Macs have been "safer" is because they are not as large a target.
"The Apple world, due to their irrelevance on the market -- around 10% PC share in the United States, less than 5% worldwide, according to Gartner and IDC -- hasn't gotten much attention from the bad guys," Bamburic wrote, and then mocked the language change. "What does Apple do in light of all this? No apologies, as it's too embarrassing. They quietly (like running through a room full of people thinking no one's going to notice) change their security motto."
But once the "we-told-you-so" chorus subsides, the more relevant question for millions of users is whether this "quiet" change in terminology signals a change in action. Is Apple going to take security more seriously?