viernes, 17 de abril de 2009

Are macs more insecure than Windows / GNU/Linux?

I've been very busy lately studying python to create a tool for FLISoL, so expect to hear about that within the next days (the event is to take place sat. April 25th).

I hit this article about security on Macs by Preston Gralla where he states that some security experts say that Macs are easier to crack than Windows and GNU/Linux.... now, easier to crack than GNU/Linux, I find that believable... but more than Güindous? I doubt it. Anyway, they are the experts and I don't mean to contradict them.

However, Macs are just another closed platform. It can't be verified to be secure by any third party, so perhaps it really is that they be more insecure than Güindous... given that there's no source code to review, I can't really tell (not that I would check the code, anyway).

How much DRM code is in OSX these days? Does it spy its users "a la güindous"? Does anybody know? No source code, so nobody can't really tell.

I have developed this analogy of someone who wants to buy a nuclear reactor. There are two organizations interested in providing you with their nuclear reactor.

- Provider # 1 gives you the reactor plus all the design information, all blue prints, everything but the kitchen sink!

- Provider # 2 gives you the reactor and doesn't give you a clue as to how it is built inside. It's a black box (or a massive gray one). All you have is the control panels and the documentation that this provider is kind enough to provide with (you know.... they can't give you everything for security reasons).

Given those two choices... which would you consider to be more secure/stable/reliable? Which one would you choose? I'd personally go for Provider 1. At least I know what I'm getting. And the guys are so comfortable with their design that they even give it away to buyers. Perhaps the guys at Chernobyl chose provider # 2.

And finally, what's a virus for Macs called? An iVirus?

5 comentarios:

  1. Preston is right. Macs are based on BSD and the source for the base operating system is open source (http://www.opensource.apple.com/darwinsource/). This gives them a good security base. And from the outside a Mac is fairly secure. But most of the security threats today come from browsers. And while the Mac inherits (and extends) the jail/sandbox capability from BSD it doesn't actually activate it for much of anything. In addition, steps that Windows (and Linux) have already taken like address randomization and stack protection haven't been fully activated on Macs yet. It looks like Apple is planning on turning on these security features in the Snow Leopard release but since it is a closed development process we can't know for sure until they release the source in conjunction with that.

    When you extend out looking for security threats in the windowing system and Objective-C frameworks then you are are correct. Those are completely closed and source isn't available.

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  2. OSX may be based on BSD, but in the very long (in computing terms) time since then, we don't really know what improvements there have been. We don't know whether they stuck closely to the BSD system, or whether they diverged. One thing is guaranteed - security updates/upgrades will have been at a slower pace than GNU/Linux ones. Unfortunately, OSX and Windows alike are of the "Chernobyl" analogy.

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  3. Independent security assessments of OS X vs. OpenBSD and Safari vs. Konqueror have often found Apple to introduce a significant number of bugs and vulnerabilities into code base.

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  4. My point is that, for the _base_ operating system, you _do_ know. The source for that is available at the link I provided. Have Apple "introduced a significant number of bugs and vulnerabilities into the code base"? I have no idea, but you can look at the base OS code and see for yourself.

    I would much prefer Apple to provide an open source OS but calling them completely closed source and saying you have no more insight into their code then Windows is incorrect.

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