Tuesday, November 21

Computer Security: Is Windows Worth It?

I recently read an article in USA Today about the measures people take to secure their Windows PCs. Since switching to the Mac a few years ago, I can't help but shudder when I remember the attention I had to pay just to keep the machine running smoothly. Just keeping up with Microsoft's security updates on my wife's Windows laptop (she needed it for work) is difficult.

There are so many options: you can shell out money for anti-malware utilities ("malware" is a term that encompasses all malicious software, from viruses to worms to spyware), or you can find comparable software for free if you know where to look. But even once the software has been installed, you still need to diligently check the Internet for updates; otherwise, your money and/or effort is rendered useless.

And then I look at my Mac. It's a great machine: it does almost anything you would require right out of the box (aside from a few small shareware and donationware products, the only Mac software I've purchased is Microsoft Office), and it's got an inherently better security system than the one found in Windows.

As the linked article testifies, I don't mean to imply that Macs are somehow immune to intrusion. As John Gruber puts it:

The explanation that makes sense is the obvious one: that Mac OS X really is more secure and better designed. Not that it’s totally secure. Not that it’s perfectly designed. Not that it is utterly impervious to attack because it’s protected by magic leprechauns. Just that it’s better.
As disheartened as I am by the state of Windows security, I can say that there really is a better option for the average user. (The fact that it's also a really cool option for advanced users is an added benefit.) Mac OS X really does make a home computer easy to operate, easy to maintain, and-- thanks to its thoughtful design-- pretty darn easy on the eyes as well.

Links mentioned in this post:
As far as PC security, Goldilocks got it just right (USA Today)
Jackass of the Week: Larry Seltzer (Daring Fireball)

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The Geek Code desperately needs updating, but in any case here's mine (as of 2010-02-28):

Version: 3.12
GIT/MU d+(-) s:+>: a C++> ULXB++++$ L+++ M++ w--() !O !V P+ E---
W+++ N o++ K? PS PE++ Y+ PGP t !5 X- R- tv+@ b++ DI++++ D--- e*++
h--- r+++ y+++ G+

If you really care about knowing what that all means, you either know the code already, or you can get it decoded for you here.