May 08, 2009, 11:25 AM — Let's skip the jokes and snide comments about Mac users and the jokes and snide comments they make about Windows machines and security problems. Yes, Windows machines face the vast majority of security issues. However, Mac users should start feeling kinship, not contempt, for security plagued Windows users. And the first step for Mac users is to admit that their Mac has become a hacker target, and hackable as well. Not fun, but there it is.
There are two real reasons for these new Mac attacks. First, the growing popularity means there are more Macs. Where snide Windows users could deride Macs for being a less than five percent player in the market in the past, some analysts are speaking about Macs becoming ten percent of the market. The numbers jump up to nearly half when speaking of new notebook users, especially in certain categories and price points. More Macs mean a better target population for the hackers.
Second, hackers, which I'm using as a general term today for malware creators of all kinds, have become so much more efficient they can afford to spend time attacking the Mac population. The cost of sending spam isn't pennies per thousands, but pennies per million. Create a Trojan program just for a Mac? The hackers have the time and the expertise, and they're doing it. The recent uproar over a a Trojan hidden inside an illegal copy of iWork '09 on peer to peer sharing sites made plenty of news recently.
ComputerWorld's 15 Easy Fixes for Mac Security Risks outlines more than a dozen ways to improve the security of your Macintosh system. These tend to be more basic and easier to handle than many Windows security suggestions, because the Macs are just falling into the security sinkhole. Many of these suggestions require Mac users make some changes in the way they use, and think about, their system. It won't be easy to shift your thinking, but it will help you and your fellow Mac users to do so. The more resistant Macs remain to security attacks, the fewer attacks will be aimed at them.