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Why Windows Has So Many Viruses

posted on 2015-04-10 by Spencer Bravo


Earlier today, I heard a few guys sitting in front of me in class talk about computer security. One of them was arguing that OS X was much better than Windows because Windows has so many viruses. The Mac sided guy claimed that it was all because Mac OS X was so much more secure(and overall superior) to Windows. The Windows supporter proceeded to argue that it was only based on the size of the target. This aspect of tech security is still very confused among a large number of users. They are both partially right. In this post I will go over why it at least seems that OS X is so much more secure and why Windows has so many more viruses.

Security

This is touching on the Mac supporters argument. It is true that Microsoft has had a rough time with security vulnerabilities. The backdoors and what not over the years has given them a pretty bad wrap in the world of tech-sec. Though the security is getting better, mostly because of the thousands of patches they've released, but none the less, it is better. With each version of Windows, the security is getting better. This being said, because of their poor history, there is always speculation with the latest version on whether there might be more/different potentially for malicious attacks.

Next, lets talk about the security of OS X. It's not really that good, but until recently it was much better than Windows. We can thank BSD for most of Mac's security being that Mac OS X is just(slightly) modified) BSD. I wish they could take some of those public license good vibes with them and forget about patenting absolutely everything, and they could actually contribute to the growth of overall technology, rather than holding it back. But that's a rant for a different post. To the point, Macs are about as vulnerable as the latest version of Windows. The Flashback virus is one of the most famous widespread viruses, but the overall security issues are much bigger. In a competition to see which operating system was easiest to break into, OS X "won", by being broken into in a grand total of 2 minutes! Windows was broken into easily once a variety of third party applications were added, and the GNU/Linux machine(Ubuntu) was never broken into. So as secure as OS X may seem, it isn't much(if any) better than Windows

Popularity

Flat out, Windows is by far the most popular computer operating system. Anywhere you go, you will most likely see a Windows computer. This makes it the most attractive target to hackers. Why take control of thousands of computers when you could take over millions of users? It seems like a no-brainer. If you live in California, it may seem like there are almost an even amount of Apple computers as there are Microsoft computers, but in the scheme of things, the Windows user base is much much larger(a lot of this has to do with price). For most people, the price point of an Apple computer is just too high. That again, is another rant for another post. Overall, the number of "vulnerable" computers per operating system is much larger for Windows, so the attackers see a bigger value in making viruses for Windows machines rather than Macs.

Conclusion

These two factors are the main reasons that Windows has more viruses. I'm not saying that it's all based on popularity and hacker's choice, but that does make a significant difference, as it has been pointed out that it is very easy to break into a Mac. Although the GNU/Linux machine was never gotten into, I am not saying that it is completely immune to all attacks. No operating system is 100% secure, but using GNU/Linux over the others does give you a better shot at not getting infected.