Some thoughts on the cuture of Macintosh and the relative security that Mac users enjoy:

SecurityFocus HOME Columnists: Apple’s Big Virus

Just as Windows users have become accustomed to 140,000 viruses, Apple users have become accustomed to none. It’s a major cultural difference that admittedly, sometimes causes Apple users to do stupid things — and get away with them. It’s hard to describe the freedom of using a system with no malware known to have spread. It’s liberating.

Beyond critical mass, I would like to believe there’s a better reason for the lack of viruses on OS X, and it’s based on the culture of the Mac — which is distinctly different from other platforms. Is it wrong to try a new computer system and actually enjoy the user experience, for a change? Can you imagine a world where (today) you can click on anything and never worry about malicious intent? Can we not continue this unwritten rule that there can be a platform out there that is simple, easy-to-use, with Unix (and a cool ports tree) underneath that has no threat at all from viruses?

It’s true really. As a Mac user, I pretty much surf the web without fear, and the last time I saw a Mac virus was CDEF back in the early 1990s, which usually got transmitted via floppy disk exchanges and cured via good old Disinfectant or a desktop rebuild.

The author in his article states: “…understand that users can still be tricked into clicking on anything — social engineering will always work, and there will always be people who click.” Certainly, ask a bunch of users to do something stupid, and a few of them are bound to click the big red shiny button. There is, in fact, a sucker in every crowd. And certainly part of the perceved security is a cultural thing people just don’t do that to their Mac-wielding bretheren. But I think also that a fair amount of credit needs to be given to the tradition of strong security practices in the Mac OS in general, and even more credit is due to Microsoft for making the most penetrable, bug-riddled, insecure operating system ever.