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Hacker: Windows More Secure Than Mac OS X

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 85 comments

Hackers just like the PC more.

Regardless of which side you're on (though as a true computing enthusiast, you shouldn't be taking sides), you've heard the arguments back and forth on the which operating system is truly safer – Mac OS X or Windows.

It is of the opinion of Charlie Miller, a well known Mac security guru, that even Snow Leopard, the latest version of Mac OS X, isn't as safe as Windows.

One key point is that Snow Leopard still doesn't have ASLR, or address space layout randomization, which randomly arranges the position of key data making it harder for hackers to target for exploits.

Miller said to TechWorld that Apple didn't change the ASLR from 10.5 to 10.6: "Apple didn't change anything. It's the exact same ASLR as in Leopard, which means it's not very good."

Apple didn’t completely missed the chance to tighten up security in Snow Leopard though, as the new QuickTime solves a lot of the issues that Mac OS X had before.

"Apple rewrote a bunch of QuickTime," said Miller, "which was really smart, since it's been the source of lots of bugs in the past."

One thing that Snow Leopard did adapt, which Windows has had since XP SP2, is DEP (data execution prevention). With DEP, buffer overflow attacks are much harder to execute.

Despite Miller's opinion that Windows is the more secure OS, the large install based of Microsoft-based systems make them a much more attractive target for hackers. Still, Miller would like to see security on all platforms.

"Snow Leopard's more secure than Leopard, but it's not as secure as Vista or Windows 7," he said. "When Apple has both [in place], that's when I'll stop complaining about Apple's security."

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Top Comments
  • 36 Hide
    Sicundercover , September 22, 2009 1:01 AM
    Note: this is the same guy that won at Own2Pwn last year. So Im pretty sure he knows what hes talking about.

    But Mac users live in a little false reality bubble with twirling rainbows and lies about being impervious to maleware.
  • 35 Hide
    xaira , September 22, 2009 12:40 AM
    score 1 for windows
  • 34 Hide
    doomtomb , September 22, 2009 12:44 AM
    So I bet this isn't going to make it amongst the bias PC vs. Mac ads
Other Comments
  • 34 Hide
    nukemaster , September 22, 2009 12:39 AM
    Ahhh, so true.
  • 35 Hide
    xaira , September 22, 2009 12:40 AM
    score 1 for windows
  • 34 Hide
    superblahman123 , September 22, 2009 12:42 AM
    Keep in mind it was an apple developer saying this himself, sounds like this guy could be the anti-christ for those PC vs. Mac commercials.
  • 34 Hide
    doomtomb , September 22, 2009 12:44 AM
    So I bet this isn't going to make it amongst the bias PC vs. Mac ads
  • 36 Hide
    Sicundercover , September 22, 2009 1:01 AM
    Note: this is the same guy that won at Own2Pwn last year. So Im pretty sure he knows what hes talking about.

    But Mac users live in a little false reality bubble with twirling rainbows and lies about being impervious to maleware.
  • 23 Hide
    njkid3 , September 22, 2009 1:02 AM
    and this is new to the world how. i think this should already be common knowledge.
  • 29 Hide
    eklipz330 , September 22, 2009 1:27 AM
    dont worry, when apple gets more shares, they will feel the wrath of the hackers
  • 27 Hide
    Sicundercover , September 22, 2009 1:30 AM
    Plus by the time Apple is done spinning this the Fanboys will be claiming that this is all a scheme devised by MS.
  • 12 Hide
    ElectroGoofy , September 22, 2009 1:30 AM
    sicundercoverBut Mac users live in a little false reality bubble with twirling rainbows and lies about being impervious to maleware.


    Amen! lol

    I'm always tired of Mac users saying "Oh, but there is less malware for Macs out there!" My response to that is "Hackers just feel sorry for Mac users and decide not to make their lives even more miserable than they already are with using a Mac." ;)  Now I can say that Windows is more secure! :D 

    (P.S. I am not one of those people that have never used a Mac and say that I don't like it, I have been using one extensively over the summer and have found out how much time I have saved by using a Windows computer all of my life ;) )
  • 8 Hide
    warmon6 , September 22, 2009 1:47 AM
    well looks like the score all tied up now :lol:  well if this dont prove that macs are under that just as much as windows then i dont know what will.
  • 13 Hide
    XD_dued , September 22, 2009 1:47 AM
    Its all about the market share...
  • -7 Hide
    chaosgs , September 22, 2009 1:49 AM
    "Regardless of which side you're on (though as a true computing enthusiast, you shouldn't be taking sides)"

    Wrong idiot, no such thing as a apple enthusiast. I dont see people buying Imac's and upgrading or overclocking them into gaming machines. As a author you shouldnt be telling us what we should and shouldnt be doing or thinking or feeling. Yes i do take Windows side, its faster, upgradeble, cheaper, and now its safer. So why would you buy an Imac? Only if your pocketbook is bigger than your IQ.
  • 22 Hide
    Major7up , September 22, 2009 1:51 AM
    I work for a small creative agency where I am the sole Windows user out of simple preference. I do not nor have I ever had malice or negative thoughts about Apple products. I have owned both...and yet I am constantly attacked about having an inferior device because it isn't Apple. I don't like being forced into a corner and having to defend myself and it really pisses me off. Both have strengths and weaknesses and as the author of the article pointed out, the true computer enthusiast does not care...and I really don't.
  • 9 Hide
    z3r0_f4ct0r , September 22, 2009 2:03 AM
    Apple needs to add the FreeBSD Jails Subsystem:
    http://www.freebsd.org/doc/en/books/handbook/jails.html

    along with OpenBSD PF:
    http://www.openbsd.org/faq/pf/

    DEP is old news, has been in OpenBSD for a while W^X:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W%5EX

    As for ASLR, its not that big of an issue. The attacks that ASLR protects on Windows don't effect Mac OS X.
  • -1 Hide
    war2k9 , September 22, 2009 2:36 AM
    There is nothing new in this article. Any smart computer user will know that there is no such thing is
  • 20 Hide
    nerdherd , September 22, 2009 2:37 AM
    ChaosGSGet an edit button on here, stupid toms. While your working on the edit button, get some non biased authors or some authors with a brain. Jane is the only decent author on here. Marcus has always been a biased retarded individual, serious stop writing topics, and just spell check its about all your good for.


    Ummmm...take a look at that last sentence again and see if you can find anything in his article that is as poorly written... :p 
  • 10 Hide
    08nwsula , September 22, 2009 2:44 AM
    xairascore 1 for windows


    score one MORE for Windows
  • 6 Hide
    JonathanDeane , September 22, 2009 3:16 AM
    I wonder why people think ASLR is unimportant? To me it seems like just one more layer of security.... I like extra layers when it comes to security and if it does not impose any significant performance loss then why not? To argue against extra security is crazy on any platform.
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