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November 3, 2003

Asleep at the Switch?

Expectations that the "new" UNIX based Apple OS is somehow purer and safer than PC operating systems came crashing down to reality with the latest Panther offering.

The newest, greatest Apple software ever (isn't that what Jobs always says?) has several very embarrassing problems.  First, it can render information on some FireWire hard disks unreadable... get ready...  just by plugging them in. And then there are at least three new security vulnerabilities, one of which may allow attackers to execute some arbitrary commands as a root user!  For those who can't parse that last bit, imagine you live in San Francisco, and all of a sudden your refrigerator and wallet have been emptied by some guy in New York who is also making long distance phone calls on your line.  And the root part mean's he's also able to act as your landlord.

Apple users love to poke fun at "Windoz" as sloppy and dangerous, and point to all the patches that come out of Redmond as proof, but do the math.  If Apple's got less than 5% of the market, they're not as big a hacker playground as the guys who have 90%. It doesn't mean they're better or immune, just not as fun a target. Of course, toasting those hard disks is something inventive Cupertino brought out themselves...

4 = 3

  Before the Mac heads go all non-linear, let's set the record straight here.  There's a Mac about 12 inches away from the keyboard where this is being written.  It's turned on, in active use, with near-latest (g) OS on it.  We like the Macintosh, but we're embarrassed by the zealots with which it is associated.  

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