Sophos says it’s time to switch computing platforms

Sophos just released their latest Security Threat Management Report, and the news is not good for all. Viruses are waning, but malicious malware designed to steal you blind (say financially-oriented trojans) is up dramatically. The Sobers and Netskys of the world still lead the charge, but the face of deliver is simply changing.

Then, in the wake of this news, Sophos (who I feel generally maintains an unbiased reporting approach in order to preserve their credibility), adds the following footnotes to their distribution charts:

For malware…

All of the above malware works on Windows; none is capable of infecting Mac OS X.

and their families…

Again, all of the above malware works on Microsoft Windows; none is capable of infecting the Apple Macintosh operating system.

They go on to say…

“It’s more vital than ever that all organisations use an integrated security solution to protect against intrusion, as well as blocking known and unknown malware. On top of this, hackers seem happy to primarily target Windows users and not spread their wings to other platforms. It seems likely that Macs will continue to be the safer place for computer users for some time to come – something that home users may wish to consider if they’re deliberating about the next computer they should purchase.”

This couldn’t be much more timely. I was recently accused of being a well-crafted shill (for OS X, despite the fact I generally promote Linux side-by-side), and a “clueless machead.” Well, let’s just set the story straight.

I was a Windows user since the days of 3.1, moving to 95, then migrating carefully along the NT-based set. I never got an infection (I spent a hoard of money on protective mechanisms), but since I put my machines through their paces, I saw the “blue screen of death” on numerous occasions. Then I stuffed Linux on my Dell laptop, and I was hooked. My “in-the-know” friends lent a helping hand, while my less inclined colleagues continued to struggle with Windows. I found freedom to do what I wanted with my desktop – but it took time. The ensuing months found me spending more and more of my work day on the Linux side of that tricky little dual-boot, dual-drive Dell, even though that work day was primarily financial in nature.

Then one day, I get handed a Powerbook – told to toy with it on a rainy weekend. I did, and what I found was the best of both worlds, so I bought one myself. I’ve stuff a fresh database server on it, used it to test web apps, compiled Gimp and Ethereal for it, and hoards of other half-fun, half-needed things. And I’ve even protected it with anti-virus software (mostly to prevent passing something on to others). It has never crashed to memory dump or been infected, and I can (surprise) still use it to send email, build financial projections, and write letters. And, Linux is still the platform of choice when bringing a server up.

I can’t help but be biased now, but I’ve put in the hours. I promote OS X because the shit works, and I hate seeing my friends struggle (and I hate reformatting their Windows machines, and reinstalling XP, too, although I do it anyway). I’ve gotten numerous people to switch to Linux (and if it had training wheels, they would have probably stayed). Only one migration to OS X as a result of my preaching (due mostly to cost), but it has stuck. Put in the time, or fork up the dough – both are fine by me.

I don’t own Microsoft or Apple or Red Hat stock either.


Regardless of what’s really the case, a battle ensued over at Slashdot, and the arguments were top notch.

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