Mac OS X Is More Vulnerable than Windows 7, Security Expert Says
Article by George Norman
On 10 Aug 2011
There are still people out there who believe there are no threats for the Apple-developed Mac OS X. There are threats out there, just that there aren’t as many as there are for Microsoft’s Windows operating system – which is understandable since Windows holds a larger market share than Mac OS X. If there weren’t any Mac threats, why would companies such as Intego even be in business? But I digress.

The focus here is that there are threats for Mac out there and that according to a security expert Mac OS X is more vulnerable than Windows 7. At the Black Hat Technical Security Conference, security expert Alex Stamos of iSec Partners said that when it comes to network-based attacks, Mac OS X is “significantly more vulnerable” than Windows 7.

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Stamos explained that user privilege issues affect the Apple-developed and the Microsoft-developed operating system. The difference between the two is that Apple’s Mac OS X has more points of failure than Microsoft’s Windows 7. But with Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, the gap between the two operating systems is closing, added Stamos.

"OS X networks are significantly more vulnerable to network privilege escalation," Stamos said at the Black Hat Conference. "Almost every OS X server service offers weak or broken authentication mechanisms."

I would like to go back to the fact that there are more security problems for Windows than there are for Mac OS X. The numbers speak for themselves in this regard. For the past three years the number of Windows vulnerabilities went up to 1,325. The number of Mac OS X vulnerabilities for the past three years is of 1,151. The rather small difference between Windows and Mac OS X vulnerabilities, said Stamos, is proof that the hackers are taking Apple’s operating system seriously. Windows is a bigger target, but that doesn’t mean Mac OS X isn’t a serious target. If it weren’t, then the number of uncovered vulnerabilities would have been smaller.

Stamos added that because many Mac users believe their operating system is security problems free, they don’t security as seriously as Windows users do. Consequently they are more prone to social-engineering attacks.

Tags: Apple, Microsoft, Mac OS X, Windows 7, Lion, Security
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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Mac OS X Is More Vulnerable than Windows 7, Security Expert Says
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