Microsoft a decade ahead of Apple on security, says Kaspersky boss. We’re not so sure.

In a recent interview, Kaspersky Lab founder and CEO Eugene Kaspersky claimed that Apple is “10 years” behind Microsoft on security, as evidenced by the recent malware attacks affecting Mac OS X.

There’s been a lot of chatter lately that the recent Flashback and Flashfake malware infestations plaguing Apple’s Max OS X are a sign that the Mac is not nearly as secure as Apple and its devout fans would like you to believe.

Eugene Kaspersky, however, founder and CEO of Kaspersky Lab—a leading producer of security software—claims things are much worse. He says that Apple is in a potentially dire position and must change its approach to patches and updates, much in the same way Microsoft did year ago to more quickly and efficiently address vulnerabilities in Windows.

In a recent interview with CBR Online, Kaspersky said,

“I think they are ten years behind Microsoft in terms of security.  For many years I've been saying that from a security point of view there is no big difference between Mac and Windows. It's always been possible to develop Mac malware, but this one was a bit different. For example it was asking questions about being installed on the system and, using vulnerabilities, it was able to get to the user mode without any alarms."

Of course it’s possible to develop malware for OSX. Malware could be developed for any OS. As far as malware exploiting vulnerabilities, is that what’s been happening on Windows systems for ages?

Before we go on, we should point out what we believe to be a serious flaw in that statement. When Kaspersky says “there is no big difference between Mac and Windows,” that may be true on some level because they are both consumer operating systems, but the underlying technologies in OS X and Windows are fundamentally different. OS X is based on UNIX, which is decades more mature than Windows. And with that maturity also comes strong security.

Kaspersky goes on to say, "They will understand very soon that they have the same problems Microsoft had ten or 12 years ago. They will have to make changes in terms of the cycle of updates and so on and will be forced to invest more into their security audits for the software."

This may or may not be the case. Kaspersky asserts that the success of Flashback / Flashfake will result in more malware being released for OS X. We’re not so sure. Most malware producers are in it to make a quick buck, not for notoriety. And the success of one piece of malware, doesn’t guarantee more will follow. Flashback / Flashfake may be getting some attention now, but targeting the Mac just doesn’t make as much financial sense as targeting Windows.

The fact of the matter is, even with relatively strong Mac sales, Windows-based systems far outsell the Mac and malware producers are always going to more aggressively target the largest install base. At least that’s our opinion. What say you?

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