Saturday, February 25, 2006

Viruses threatening Mac OS

One of the big advantages of Macs compared to Windows has the resilience of Mac OS X. Based on the UNIX underpinnings, Mac OS X is an industrial strength UNIX that has been tailored for the desktop by Apple. The fact that Mac OS X is based on the Darwin kernel has made it much more secure than Windows.

During the last few years, while Windows users have been plagued by a constant assault of viruses, spyware, trojan horses, and other malware, Apple's Mac OS X has appeared immune to this type of problem.

This perception has changed, however, after two possible threats to Mac OS X have been found on less than one week. The problems, based on the way simple files are handled by the operating system, have been demonstrated to be possible to explore in order to compromise the system's security.

While this may look frightening, remember that the security flaws have just been shown as "concepts" and not real virus. Even if a real virus or worm is created for Mac OS X, it is very difficult that it will have the same consequences as on a Windows system. Most files on a Mac are protected against damage using file permissions. So, although the problems revealed this week show that Macs are not invulnerable, there is still a long way to go for virus creators if they want to make a life out of Apple computers.

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