The Difference Between Security and Safety

Dennis Fisher:

Little, if anything, gets Mac users more exercised than a mention of their favorite machine’s security problems. Despite the fact that security experts believe Macs to be much easier to exploit than Windows machines, Mac users simply trot out the old saw about there not being any virus attacks on Macs. Not only is that assertion demonstrably false, but it misses the point entirely: Virus attacks are not an indicator of the security of an operating system.

That probably sounds like clueless trolling to many of you reading this, but it’s not, and it highlights an important distinction. Security is about technical measures, like the strength of the locks on your doors and windows. Safety is about the likelihood that you’ll actually suffer from some sort of attack. Microsoft has in fact implemented more advanced security measures in Windows than Apple has in Mac OS X, but that’s not surprising, because Windows is where nearly all the malware is.

But it rings untrue to most ears to claim that Apple is doing a bad job with regard to security. The evidence suggests that Mac OS X has been and remains secure enough to be safe, and safety is what real people actually care about.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009