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Security OS X Operating Systems Software

Study Recommends Mac OS X as Safest OS 370

Posted by michael
from the safety-first dept.
rocketjam writes "The British security firm mi2g has concluded a comprehensive 12-month study to identify the safest 24/7 computing environment. In the end, the open source BSD and Mac OS X came out on top with the fewest security breaches against permanently connected machines worldwide in homes, small businesses, large enterprises and governments. The study found Linux to be the most breached environment 'in terms of manual hacker attacks overall and accounts for 65.64% of all breaches recorded'. Windows was the most breached environment in government computing and led Linux, BSD and Mac OS X by far in economic damage caused by breaches." We mentioned their previous study too. As before, the study ignores the thousands of automatically-spreading viruses for Windows.
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Study Recommends Mac OS X as Safest OS

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  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @01:05PM (#10701363)
    ...this study is talking about manual exploits, and says as much [mi2g.com]:

    The study also reveals that Linux has become the most breached 24/7 online computing environment in terms of manual hacker attacks overall and accounts for 65.64% of all breaches recorded, with 154,846 successfully compromised Linux 24/7 online computers of all flavours.

    This is likely because of the great number of Linux servers, and the wide variety of network services and ports open to the world on such servers.

    And it does, in fact, make distinct reference to Windows malware (self-propagating worms, viruses, etc.):

    Malware proliferation

    The recent global malware epidemics have primarily targeted the Windows computing environment and have not caused any significant economic damage to environments running Open Source including Linux, BSD and Mac OS X. When taking the economic damage from malware into account over the last twelve months, including the impact of MyDoom, NetSky, SoBig, Klez and Sasser, Windows has become the most breached computing environment in the world accounting for most of the productivity losses associated with malware - virus, worm and trojan - proliferation. This is directly the result of very insignificant quantities of highly damaging mass-spreading malware being written for other computing environments like Linux, BSD and Mac OS X.


    Also interesting:

    For the record, neither mi2g Ltd nor the mi2g Intelligence Unit have a business relationship with Apple Computers and we do not own any shares in that corporation. Previously, the mi2g data for one month was considered to be too small a sample and not representative of the global environment within which different types of entities - micro, small, medium and large - exist. We have addressed those concerns in the new study. The critics were against the previous study which also came out in favour of Apple and BSD, because the entrenched supporters of Linux and Windows felt that mi2g was guilty of 'computing blasphemy'. In subsequent months, mi2g's reputation was damaged on search engines and bulletin boards. We would urge caution when reading negative commentary against mi2g, which may have been clandestinely funded, aided or abetted by a vendor or a special interest group.

    There are a wide variety of reasons to expect that Mac OS X is a significantly more secure computing platform than Windows in a non-server/desktop setting; this study only further confirms that.
    • by geoffspear (692508) on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @01:21PM (#10701602) Homepage
      How dare you try to prevent slashdot users from going nuts!?

      The problem with this study isn't that it can been seen to say that Windows is more secure than Linux (which it doesn't say, specifically denies it's saying it, but with Linux users will think it's saying and flame away).

      The problem is that they claim to be trying to find the "most secure" OS, and then look at the % of total attacks against each type of system instead of the average per installation of each type. If I set up 5 insecure "A" machines and 100 more secure "B" machines, and find that there were 5 attacks against the A machines and 20 against the B machines, I can conclude that the B machines are least secure because they account for 80% of attacks, or that A machines are least secure because they're attacked 100% of the time vs. 20% of the time. The raw numbers are completely meaningless in the context they're presented in, and the "news alert" itself show they're either intentionally misleading people or they're incompetent and need to hire a statistician with a big clue stick.

      By the way, I do think the BSDs are probably "more secure", as they claim, but their methodology makes me ashamed to share their opinions.

    • by mitchus (797970) on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @01:25PM (#10701647)
      This is likely because of the great number of Linux servers,

      Indeed. I wonder about the relevance of absolute figures in such a study. I mean, I can top all these amateurs with my own home-made kernel Skimpy, 0 breaches recorded (fact that I am the sole user intentionally omitted)
    • Meaningless (Score:5, Insightful)

      by poptones (653660) on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @01:36PM (#10701816) Journal
      I saw this earlier from a link at osnews (yeah, I know). I was a little surprised it hadn't been mentioned here until I read the article. The site comes across as just another of those l337 haxor orgs trying to "go legit." Lots more disclaimers like that one blaming "people with agendas" writing bad press and even blaming the search engines for linking to it and helping spread the evil word. A "news" page linking to all their press releases where they quote themselves a lot.. oh boy, that's impressive.

      Anyway, just in the last fews days I can think of at least one exploit requiring users of real player (on ANY platform) to "update their software" lest they be rooted by a malicious video stream. Previous hacks mentioned in the article were related to both Real and Quicktime being vulnerable to malicious skins.

      Since I don't use either of these pieces of crapware I guess I'm 100% safer than everyone else and I don't have to worry about being rooted - because, after all, it's just bad software that makes you vulnerable, not being a warez whore and installing every piece of shit toy on your system that catches your eye.
    • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @01:37PM (#10701835) Homepage
      And even before people go nuts over that, remember that this is mi2g we're talking about. They are to a reputable security firm what two Wisconsin state troopers having a donut are to the Berlin Wall in 1980.
    • I am glad you pointed out that this is about manual exploits, NOT about which OS has the best security. If we were talking strictly about vulnerbility the story would be quite different. Quite simply, Mac OS would lose (IMHO): http://www.computerweekly.com/articles/article.asp ?liArticleID=131513&liArticleTypeID=1&liCategoryID =2&liChannelID=22&liFlavourID=1&sSearch=&nPage =1
    • by Brandybuck (704397) on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @02:09PM (#10702345) Homepage Journal
      This is likely because of the great number of Linux server

      Wait! Everytime Microsoft makes this argument in defense of Windows shoddy security, Slashdot laughs them down. Suddenly the argument is valid for Linux?
      • Linux is very much like BSD.

        Infact, Linux could be identical to BSD in certain situations. This is a key fact that is not a factor in Unix vs. Windows comparisons.

        Linux shares many of the same apps with every other common version of Unix on the planet.

        This means that being smug and using BSD won't necessarily have any practical impact on you.
      • by Stephen Samuel (106962) <samuel&bcgreen,com> on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @02:50PM (#10702964) Homepage Journal
        Wait! Everytime Microsoft makes this argument in defense of Windows shoddy security, Slashdot laughs them down. Suddenly the argument is valid for Linux?

        The response to the 'popularity' point for Linux vs Windows is that the popularity of Windows does not come close to explaining the statistical difference... Counterexamples include considering that Linux is a fer more popular internet server than Windows is, but still gets fewer total exploits in that field.

        For Linux Vs Mac, It's harder to say that the difference is or isn't due to the market share, and the authors are simply acknowledging that. Perhaps, in time, someone will do a study to attempt to distinguish that difference (and we can then bash and/or praise that to our hearts' content)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @01:05PM (#10701369)
    It's ranked as safest, too.
  • Which BSD? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Benanov (583592) <(brian.kemp) (at) (member.fsf.org)> on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @01:08PM (#10701415) Journal
    The study doesn't specify which BSD distribution they used, besides OS X (Darwin). I guess you could say "all of them" but c'mon, you just can't leave out details like that.
    • Also, when they refer to a "24/7 computing environment", one would assume that they are talking about servers. Seldom are Macs used as servers (though they make good server machines) in comparision to Windows or Linux.

      I would equate the percentage of breaches somewhere in-line with the percentage of instances as a server PC. We all know that Apache on Linux makes up a large majority of webservers out there.

      What bothers me is that they fail to mention the percentage of exploits on desktop machines as wel
      • Re:Which BSD? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by arminw (717974) on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @02:43PM (#10702880)
        ...talking about servers...

        They were also talking about desktop users in small businesses and homes with a fast, always on Internet connection. Out of the box, Macs come with most network software turned off, which makes them less vulnerable. Still, a well social engineered trojan can infect any system, if the user can be tricked into running the malware and giving or having the needed admin privileges to allow installation. No Mac is vulnerable to any of the self installing malware programs that will destroy or zombiefy a Windows box, sometimes in minutes after being connected to the Internet. I don't think it is possible to write a self-infecting malware for a Mac that doesn't require user interaction.
    • Must have been either Dragonfly or BSD/OS - why would they pick (Open|Net|Free)BSD? :)

      Seriously though, FreeBSD is the most likely - it's got the most market share of all the BSD flavours.
  • Manual breaches... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GreyWolf3000 (468618) on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @01:08PM (#10701419) Journal

    That's a software issue. Most people manually breaching systems are nmapping, finding services that are vulnerable, and exploiting them.

    Furthermore, unlike worms, crackers might not know what operating system the site is running until they attempt to infiltrate it. It's not like people go looking for Linux boxes randomly.

    I think that the argument that Linux is installed on more target machines than the other operating systems is acceptible here, even though it is somewhat fallacious when it is used to defend Windows security against automated attacks like viruses and worms.

    • by jschottm (317343) on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @01:59PM (#10702151)
      It's not like people go looking for Linux boxes randomly.

      I have many, many sshd/firewall logs that disagree with that. See here [seclists.org] for some details of what people do if they can get in.

      Crackers look specifically for Linux because your chances of finding an amateur administrator are far greater with Linux than BSD, Solaris, etc. I'd say it's also true of OS X, except Apple does a pretty good job of forcing updates down users throats which helps keep them fairly secure. There's tons of RedHat boxes out there that haven't been updated since RH EOLed the product line. And there's some pretty juicy tidbits to be found on them. I contacted a company that had been compromised in the afore mentioned group of attacks. Their box had their customers' credit card numbers on it, and with the keylogger installed in the rootkit, they were facing having other boxes that had been exposed.

      crackers might not know what operating system the site is running until they attempt to infiltrate it.

      Only the dumbest of script kiddies doesn't know what OS they are getting attacking.
  • by evilmousse (798341) on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @01:08PM (#10701424) Homepage Journal
    -flamebait-

    security through obscurity. Fewer AmigaOS exploits these days too.

    -/flamebait-

    (i'm joking.. just couldn't resist.)
    • Logical fallacy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by daveschroeder (516195) * on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @01:16PM (#10701525)
      I know you're just joking, but for others who actually believe this, it bears repeating:

      If that were true, then apache would have the most exploits of any web server, since it has the greatest market share. However, that is not the case: Microsoft IIS is by far the most exploited web server, with only around 20% marketshare.

      Additionally, lesser marketshare does not automatically imply anything with regard to security. Sure, it's *targeted* less, and people might spend less time attacking it, but that does not mean it is less secure. In fact, there are numerous technical, design, and architectural reasons that, e.g., Mac OS X is more secure than Windows. A few examples would be: no ports or services open by default, services that are used are likely to be open source services like apache and OpenSSH which receive in intense scrutiny so that theoretical holes are closed before they become practical ones, there are more layers of abstraction between an email attachment and it actually becoming a meaningful exploit, prompting and notification for administrative-level or elevated privileges, less likelihood of standardization on a single email client reducing the exposure of a single point of attack, etc.

      And sure, marketshare helps too, in terms of things like the statistical likelihood of the next host encountered/scanned by a piece of Mac OS X malware also being Mac OS X. But that's no where near the whole story.
      • Re:Logical fallacy (Score:3, Insightful)

        by evilmousse (798341)

        You're absolutely correct. The joke was exactly that: presuming a 1:n relationship between #ofUsers and #ofExploits. This more truly would be a measure of how appetizing the platform is to black-hats. There are naturally far more variables in that equation, most especially how well the platform has been designed, but we who feel "all bugs are shallow given enough eyes" should be conscious "all platforms have exploits, given enough eyes". ..wow, that was the fastest i've ever been modded down ^_^;;;
      • Unfortunately, the fallacy is yours. Apache doesn't have the largest market share. Netcraft only counts hostnames, not market share. Apache is used much more heavily in large hosting environments, which means a high hostname to server ratio. IIS is used more for single sites.

        According to an older study by netcraft, IIS runs on at least 50% of the servers out there.
      • by chill (34294) on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @02:29PM (#10702658) Journal
        But since they don't tell you how many of each system type is 24/7 connected, it is very hard to draw meaningful conclusions from this report.

        If OS X/BSD systems comprised only .001% of 24/7 connected systems, then I'm not impressed with their numbers. If they comprised 60%, then I'm really impressed.

        And...were the attacks against unique machines? Or once machine A was found to be vulnerable, were there 200 different breaches against that machine? One badly configured system could really blow it for the rest.

        Finally...which of the "attacks" were against the OS and which were against the applications? MySQl and Apache run on all their listed OSes. If it was a misconfiguration of those, which OS is really not relavant.

        They might have the data, but they do not expose enough of it for me to have any confidence in their conclusions.

        Pure marketing hype.
    • more flame: AmigaOS? That hack? go for the pure and unpoluted operating system of clean goodness: Apple /// SOS. ... or its great predecessor: Apple DOS 3.3 or its equally secure and goodly childern: ProDOS and GS/OS 6.0.1 Apple II FOREVER!
      • Hah... hah hah...

        You don't know the lineage of Apple II OSes, do you?

        ProDOS is the Apple II port of SOS (essentially - a disk can actually have an SOS.SYSTEM and a PRODOS.SYSTEM, along with A2 AND A3 versions of programs). GS/OS is the 65816 port of ProDOS, with a GUI added.
    • by slinky259 (827395) on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @01:32PM (#10701766)
      It's been widely repeated by many of my compatriots that Macs are simply more secure because they have a tiny user base. However, hacker culture is based on egos, correct? Imagine the fame one could gain by creating a virus that infects Macs too - they'ed be able to smash the "Macs don't get virii(?)" claim and they would get attention - for some people, good or bad doesn't matter.

      I'm sure a Mac virus for OS X has at the very least been attempted. Why hasn't it succeeded at spreading all around?

      OS X really is more secure
    • Between an outdated BSD derived TCP stack and an email client that can execute stuff because of an unchecked GUI toolkit injection in the subject listings.

      I'd be terrified to put an Amiga up today...
  • by datbox (800756) on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @01:09PM (#10701437)
    Does this article take into account the market share of all of these platforms? I browsed TFA and it didn't look like it did. Ofcourse if few people use osx as a server, it would result in few hacked boxes.
    • This is the same justification that Microsoft uses that since most boxes run Windows, it's expected that it's breached more and so Windows security isn't bad.

      That common notion by Microsoft is usually followed with 1000 examples on /. why Windows is still less secure than other operating systems regardless of it's popularity.
  • Oh Dear God (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @01:10PM (#10701439)
    This study is pretty much useless. Essentially what they're reporting is that of all manual hacker attacks that are successful, most of them happen on Linux, and Mac OS has the least of them. This does not mean that Mac OS is more secure. It may simply mean that Mac OS is less often attacked, or the MAc OS is less often used in 24/7 environments.

    Show us a report studying attempts/successful attempts ratio, and it might actually mean something.
    • of all manual hacker attacks that are successful, most of them happen on Linux, and Mac OS has the least of them. This does not mean that Mac OS is more secure.

      They didn't say it was "most secure", they said it was "safest". That adjective takes security-through-obscurity into account.

      It's kind of analogous to buying a home in a rural town vs. a downtown metropolitan area -- your neighbors leave their house unlocked all day, but since there's only about zero-point-two reported burglaries in a ten-mile ra
  • If you look for security, have a look at http://eros-os.org [eros-os.org]

    It is the most secure because:

    • It is build around a capability system
    • It has no applications
    • The scripty kiddies don't know it is there
    I haven't heard of any break-ins in EROS!
  • by rackhamh (217889) on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @01:11PM (#10701457)
    Wouldn't it be more useful to provide statistics on the percentage of *each environment* that suffered breaches -- e.g., 17% of Linux machines suffered breaches, 28% of Windows machines, 19% of OS X machines?

    Unless I've misread the article (which is possible), the numbers they provide don't seem to take into account the *prevalence* of each environment.
    • by CrankyFool (680025) on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @01:26PM (#10701659)
      Good idea. This is why plane crashes per airline usually are reported either in relation to passenger miles (X deaths per Y passenger miles) or in relation to takeoff/landings, since they're the least safe (X deaths per Y take-off/landing).

      Personally, I'd like hacks to be reported in relation to hours in operation per year -- so if you've got two Linux servers up and one gets hacked once, you get 1:17532. It's probably reasonable, given that we can assume most servers are just going to be up all the time, to simplify this to hacks per operational systems out there.

      (I still think it's somewhat bogus to dismiss out of hand the "more virii are created on Windows because it's more popular" approach while using exactly the same approach to explain why people hack Linux systems. If Windows remained the easiest system in the world to compromise but only had a .5% marketshare, I think we'd be seeing far fewer worms and virii developed for it)
    • It certainly would be a worthwile thing to know. However, even this statistic wouldn't necessarily tell you which is 'safest'. There could be another skewing factor, such as "the companies that tend to attract serious hacking attempts by competent hackers tended to run [insert operating system here], but arbitrary attacks by know-nothing hit [some other operating system]." Looking at the data in this study, it seems like a lot of damage took place (a) on Windows machines (b) on home computers. Well what

    • Mac OS X server is not ready for prime time IMHO.

      First of all just about every security patch requires a reboot. Also if the security patch upgrades quicktime you need to actually interact with the gui or the install won't go.

      No real port system means you have to manually install everything or depend on somebody else to put together an install and hope it covers your needs. The alternative is to rely on a third party ports such as darwinports (buggy), fink (not a lot of software) and pkgsrc (small and not
  • by Jtheletter (686279) on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @01:12PM (#10701470)
    "As before, the study ignores the thousands of automatically-spreading viruses for Windows."

    Just like the millions of clueless Windows users.

  • CP/M? My old Z100 running off two 5 1/4" drives and a 2400 baud com port modem has never been hacked!!! I'll bet that it has less exploits than even mack (for those mods who miss this is humor, consider this notification :-P Mod me down all you want ;-) )
  • by StressGuy (472374) on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @01:17PM (#10701561)
    I've been tinkering off and on with Linux for a while now and I'm by no means an expert. About a year or so ago, I got the Knoppix liveCD and did a hard install with it, making it essentially a mixture of Debian stable/testing/SID. Anyway, one day I fire up Quake and, instead of the normal music, it's playing this "We are the Animals" crap. The startup script even says, "This version of Quake has been hacked". I try to install Bastille but can't quite get it to work on this mixed-Debian install. I also can't un-install it.

    So, now I'm using SuSE - mainly because it has built in security functions and is easier to configure. I kinda wish I could just go with something like Slackware and set all of it up myself, but I have limited tinkering time these days.

    I suspect that a growing population on non-expert Linux users could be a potential security vulnerability.

    • by Greyfox (87712)
      It seems like every new Linux admin goes through the "Must do EVERYTHING as root" phase and the "Must give logins on my system to everyone who asks for one" phase. Combine this with distributions that aren't easily updated and you've got a recipe for disaster. Fortunately most people seem to grow out of these two phases after getting rooted a couple of times.
      • Thanks for the tips... I'll keep them in mind. ...coming from a future 'new linux admin' if all goes as planned.
    • I suspect that a growing population on non-expert Linux users could be a potential security vulnerability.

      Reminds me of the joke about boy scouts and bears. If the troop's attacked by a bear, you don't have to run faster than the bear, just faster than one of the other scouts.

      Perhaps inundating the internet with new linux users will prove to be a boon to those who can run their systems in a secure fashion. Assuming, of course, you don't have to network with the new guys.

    • NooB (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @01:46PM (#10701941)

      Bah. Your manual Linux breeches are no match for my automated OS X pantaloons.
    • You might want to check out Fedora Core 3 when it comes out on the 8th. Although SuSE is a nice linux distro, I find that people are more likely to understand Fedora and be able to use more of its functionality. Don't ask me why heh, its just what I've observed. Also, it's a very secure operating system, super easy to set up, very easy update system (a little icon sits in your system tray and starts blinking with a big exclamation point if updates are available) or you can use yum or apt, FC3 is going to ha
  • by goldspider (445116) <ardrake79 @ g m ail.com> on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @01:23PM (#10701633) Homepage
    This defies logic. We all know that closed-source, AKA "security through obscurity" software cannot possibly be more secure than open source software like Linux. Please stop tampering with the metaphysical laws of the universe.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @01:24PM (#10701640)

    Mi2G are about as expert in computer security as your local nursery school, they are basically a fraud outfit that decieve companies by using FUD in order to transfer cash from company accounts to the chairmans pocket, and slashdot linked them up
    and you wonder why no one subscribes and blocks slashdots adverts

    in the security scene they are worthless [attrition.org]

    Register article [theregister.co.uk]
  • Breaches Recorded (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kevjava (259717) on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @01:27PM (#10701682)
    As a Mac user and Linux guy, I have to say that this kind of study is a little tilted... how many Mac users and Windows users really know how to record a breach into their machine? Neither ships with process accounting on out of the box, to my knowledge.

    I recently had some puke engage in comment spamming my website. Traceback revealed he was using a Windows XP machine infected with the Subseven trojan. I'd be willing to bet that breach was not recorded.
  • by Ingolfke (515826) on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @01:32PM (#10701752) Journal
    In a recent addendum to the mi2g's analysis, Executive Chairman DK Matai says,

    Any thinking computer professional will see that Microsoft's Longhorn Operating System has had 0 malicious security breaches over the past year. It is obscene to think that anyone with half a mind would not switch to such a secure platform. Our masterfully elaborate computer models lead us to undoubtably confirm that Microsoft's Longhorn Operating System will be the most secure Operating System until it is released, sometime in the later part of the great year 2015. At that time we believe it will experience a downward trend and will be replaced by BSD as the most securest of all Operatinginus Systamicuses around. This indisputable change will be due in large part to the unquestionable and horrifying death of the BSD platform. Indubitably.
  • Both ways (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ceswiedler (165311) * <chris@swiedler.org> on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @01:32PM (#10701764)
    You can't really compare automatic spreading of worms with manual hacking attempts. However, you can compare percentage of manual attacks with percentage of worms written. For example, if we say that "67% of attacks are on Linux servers because most servers are Linux servers", it's valid to say that "95% of worms are written for Windows because 95% of desktops run Windows".

    I'm not arguing that a hacking attempt is as bad as a worm. The article does state that the economic impact of worms is much greater. However, worms are written because of known vulnerabilities in systems, which is the same reason for manual security intrusions.
  • Sources? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @01:41PM (#10701878) Homepage Journal
    I can't find the source of the reported breaches. How did they determine which breaches to investigate? Were they only breaches reported to them? I can state for a fact that many companies do not report breach attempts to anyone. So this investigation probably isn't of a very accurate sample pool.
  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @01:43PM (#10701905) Homepage
    This study has the same problems as last year's. All it is reporting is the total number of breachers per system.

    First problem: what is a breach? If someone takes down a hosting company's Linux server that is hosting 5000 domains, and someone else takes down a Windows box with one domain and an OS X box with one domain, is that counted as 5000 Linux breaches, 1 Windows breach, and 1 OS X breach, or is it 1 breach of each OS?

    Second problem: total number of breaches is a pointless number to look at by itself. For example, if you had 100 Windows servers and 1000 Linux servers, and you had 50 of the Windows server breached and 100 of the Linux servers breached, that would be a 50% breach rate for Windows and a 10% breach rate for Linux. But the way Mi2G reports it they would say 33% of the breaches were on Window and 67% on Linux, so Windows is twice as secure.

    • First problem: what is a breach? If someone takes down a hosting company's Linux server that is hosting 5000 domains, and someone else takes down a Windows box with one domain and an OS X box with one domain, is that counted as 5000 Linux breaches, 1 Windows breach, and 1 OS X breach, or is it 1 breach of each OS?

      You are implying that Linux servers host more domains/computer than Windows or OS X boxes do. Apache is the main web server type for Linux and it also runs on Windows and OS X. Are you saying there

  • by MrMartini (824959) on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @01:53PM (#10702071)
    One important factor with Mac OS X security is its default security settings; when someone buys a new Mac, takes it home and starts it up, their firewall is enabled, all of their sharing/webserving services are turned off, and their root account is disabled.
  • by ericdano (113424) on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @02:02PM (#10702218) Homepage
    Seriously. The Mac OS is much more "fun" to use. I have a Windows XP and a Mac OS X machine next to each other. I find myself using the Mac one more. Not cause it's faster, it's not (933 machine compared to a 2.5 machine), but the experience is more enjoyable.

    Not that this matters. But it's also good to know its safe. But how many people actually direct connect to the internet? Doesn't it make sense to have some sort of cheap firewall/router box to protect you?

  • by jc42 (318812) on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @02:02PM (#10702220) Homepage Journal
    As before, the study ignores the thousands of automatically-spreading viruses for Windows.

    And in other news, a new auto-safety study by the National Traffic Safety Commission has shown that SUVs are no more dangerous to drive than other types of cars. This conclusion was reached by ignoring roll-over accidents, which are due to the SUV's design, and are thus not caused by the driver.

  • Well the issue of why Linux getting more breakins then Windows is pritty simple. Most linux Distros are a Server OS. And are installed with a lot of the server tools running at install time. Basic Windows doesn't have as many server tools. And breaking in the windows although you have access it is not nessarly the most user friendly access. Vs. Getting access to a linux box with a full command prompt at your fingertips make haking much more enjoyable and looks more like the movies. Breaking into windows s
  • by $criptah (467422) on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @02:10PM (#10702365) Homepage

    I did not think of using a Mac until my last year in college when my FreeBSD box crapped out numerous time during my final software engineering project. I spent all my graduation money on a Mac and I still think that it was a good move because I get the power of Unix and Open Source with a nice interface and a system that does not crash and accepts almost anything I choose to stick in the USB port.

    My primary reasons for using a Mac are:

    I still can use all my office applications without problems. Office for Mac is not bad at all!

    As a Unix dude who runs several boxes at home, I find it almost impossible to use windows because I am am glued to Terminal from time to time. I tried Cygwin and I do use it at work; however, I do not like it as much due to the lack of complete intergration into my box.

    Mac has been secure for me. Although I consider myself to be a power user, I do have a girlfriend who likes to download all sorts of crap and click on everything that flashes. I haven't had problems with viruses so far.

    Mac OS 10.3 has never crashed on me. I do not remember a single time when something went wrong to the point where I had to do cold boot.

    Darwinports rule. Open Source programs just the way I like them :)

    Mac is based on Unix and that is a key because I like maintaining all my systems in the same way. For example, I can run the same backup scripts with almost the same variables across all my boxes.

    Plug-n-Play, as opposed to Plug-n-Pray on Windows. So far, I had no problems with digital cameras, USB keys, scanners, printers, etc. Plug it in and it works.

    Human-Computer Interaction and Mac GUI. I cannot stress this enough: details are important! Natural things, like dragging an image from Safari browser or to iChat's icon, make our lives easier. Smooth fonts appeal greater. Software applications, just like people, will be taken more seriously if they are well polished. Thankfully, Apple spent an enormous amount of time and money on HCI research and then turned the results into something productive. I like OS X because it feels more natural than any Windows edition I've used so far.

    This is a small one, but CD burning works with OS X without any problems right out of the box. No additional software installations needed. This list was enough to convince me :)

    • > CD burning works with OS X without any problems right out of the box.

      I can't for the life of me figure out why this is so incredibly *COMPLICATED* on Windows. (Note: yes, I've heard it's easy in XP, but I've never used XP).

      I tried for about 3 hours one day to burn a freakin' ISO on a Win2K box. Nothing but headaches. Gave up. Booted Knoppix. It took less than 5 minutes to go from "man -k record" to ejecting the burnt CD.
  • What the hell does that mean?

    *If* one left a computer on the Internet accessible to all kinds of hackers, then blah blah blah

    Things like that never happen (what sane person would do that). You want a secure firewall - you get a real firewall (or one of those firewall on floppy thingies). You want a secure server in DMZ? Pretty much any OS will do.
    You want a secure desktop on LAN? Almost the same - with little precautions taken. It certainly doesn't require a BSD or Mac.
    • what sane person would do that

      I would, and I think I am, technically, sane. Picture this, your mother knows nothing about computers, has disposable income, and would like to look at web pages and exchange e-mail with all her friends. Maybe she is in a wheelchair and lives in a snowy climate. What do you do? You buy her an imac plug it into a DSL line or a cable modem, set it to auto-login and put big buttons on the desktop for her mail and web browser.

      Maybe you have been running windows too long, so

  • Quick, be sure to get all of the various ways this study could be wrong posted before any Windows users say, "See I told you so!". Be sure to slander the company, cite bizarre statistical reasons, etc. This is the appropriate reaction for all Slashdot users any time an article mentioning ANY Linux flaws comes up. (Note: Any study that points out Windows problems, even if the study was conducted by a 12 year old and his friends should be affirmed immediately.)
  • When it comes to security, the distro matters and I'm not just talking about things like Hard Hat Linux. I got a Debian box pwnz0red once and come to find out, by default Debian's services are lit up like a farging Christmas tree.

    Rather than futz with a full Debian reinstall I erased the disk and put Slack on. Slackware has fewer services on by default, and furthermore its rc.d is much simpler and easier to tweak by hand. (What can I say, I'm a fan of just going in there with vi and configuring things myse
  • How ironic!

    Linux Apache/2.0.46 (Red Hat) 19-Oct-2004 217.154.246.214 Mistral Internet
  • by Morganth (137341) on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @02:39PM (#10702810) Journal
    According to Netcraft, Apache outnumbers IIS 3:1, and I'm making the (valid) assumption that most Apache web servers run on Linux. Let's also make the other assumption that most 24/7 machines are web servers (that most servers accessible on the net are web servers).

    So, Netcraft has 37,620,349 Apache servers on-file, compared to 11,679,222 IIS servers. Mi2G has reported 235,907 successful breaches. First of all, to give you an idea of the sample size, that's 0.5% of all servers recorded by Netcraft! But let's give them that, since this is a sample of breaches occuring in a relatively short time period.

    Now here comes the real news. 59,419 of computers recorded as breached are Windows, whereas 154,846 of computers recorded as breached are Linux (mi2g's numbers). Let's take those as percentages of all Linux [*nix] servers, and of all Windows servers. Looks like 0.4% of Linux servers have been breached, whereas 0.5% of Windows servers have been breached. So Windows is a little less secure, by my metric.

    Now, this is a little unfair, because my assumption above (that Apache servers run Linux) is wrong. Many Apache servers that Netcraft picks up run BSD and could even run Mac OS X Server, I guess. Even taking this into account, the breach rate would be about the same for the two OSes (probably a little bit better for Linux).

    What this doesn't take into account in terms of the Windows/UNIX debate are the hidden costs of an IIS server in terms of administration, virii, stability, reboot requirements, etc. the list goes on and on. It also doesn't take into account SOME hidden costs of Linux/BSD servers, but those are minor compared to the Windows annoyances (trust me, I know: I administer a Windows server, unfortunately).

    That said, I do think BSD probably is more secure, and I use Netcraft's "longest uptime [netcraft.com]" as one of my metrics. To me, it seems the longer a site is on the Internet, the more statistical chance it has to get attacked. That ALL of the top uptime sites on Netcraft's list run BSD shows me that BSD is a pretty rock-solid OS for servers, that you can leave them out there in the wild for years without worry.

    The real bottom line is that software that runs on UNIX-like OSes tends to be more secure, and this usually has not too much to do with the OS. For your box to have real security, the system administrator has to be smart (or the distro has to come with Smart Defaults, like I believe Debian does in the Linux world). The only real way to prevent security breaches is to be a smart administrator: to think ahead and secure your boxen before it's too late.

    All this study shows me is that no OS is a "magic bullet," that breaches occur on unprotected machines regardless of your OS. No one blames car manufacturers/designers for stolen in-dash CD players if you stupidly forget to lock your doors.
  • My conclusion, too (Score:5, Interesting)

    by upsidedown_duck (788782) on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @03:03PM (#10703139)

    My own anecdotal experience would be roughly the same (sans OS X experience). I have known someone whose Linux box was rooted, but it, too, was a manual attack. Windows goes without saying. OpenBSD goes without saying, too (oppositely, of course).

    Linux is a very good general purpose OS, but it's development is volatile enough that it requires a conservative approach with respect to security. I would use an older more mature kernel along with manually paring down the rc directories and inetd.conf, among other things. OpenBSD, on the other hand, is stripped out of the box, and the user must add services. I generally feel that Solaris ranks more with Linux, in that a manual hardening effort really is necessary. Never would I put Windows on the Internet--it would be like swimming in the ocean with steaks tied to my legs.

  • enough! (Score:4, Funny)

    by zogger (617870) on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @03:51PM (#10703813) Homepage Journal
    enough I say! There needs to be the grand ultimate no holds barred OS hacker challenge! Each OS fanclub gets to put one as equal as possible machine on the net, with a provided IP. 24 hours opened to attack, no DDoS, actual penetration attacks. Set up a directory inside with a file called "hackmeplz", the hackers have to add their tag to that file to prove they were there. Hackers or hacker groups have to pre register, with a hashed sig for verification of who they be,and they are the only ones allowed to try.

    And here's the twist, the fanclubs are also the hackers, they not only have to try and own the other teams boxes, they have to defend their box!

    Once and for all, let's see who's got the OS and the skillz!
  • by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Tuesday November 02, 2004 @05:14PM (#10704881)
    As before, the study ignores the thousands of automatically-spreading viruses for Windows.

    And as before, michael just can't help adding his two cents to a story submission, rather than posting a comment in response to it like everyone else, subjecting his opinions to the moderation processes.

    If only Slashdot admins could be elected rather than appointed...

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