Monday, May 1, 2006

Just When You Thought It Was Safe....

In Greek mythology, Achilles was considered the most invulnerable mortal man. However, he did have a vulnerable spot - his heel. With Apollo's help, Paris was able to expose that weakness and kill Achilles by shooting him in the foot with an arrow.

What does that have to do with computer science and technology? The story of Achilles should be a lesson that the manufacturers and the engineers of other operating systems that are NOT Windows should learn. For years, Windows (and its predecessor, DOS) was vulnerable to viruses, trojan horses and worms. Other operating systems, such as Apple OS, Linux and Unix, appeared to be impervious to these threats. In fact, these OSes often bragged about their invulnerability to these threats. Although some operating systems are less vulnerable to viruses and other malicious attacks than Windows, there is no invulnerable operating system. A virus writer has recently found Apple OS's Achilles heel.

In this recent article from Yahoo! News, a new virus has been discovered on the Apple OS. It is quite interesting that experts have warned about vulnerabilities in the Apple OS earlier this year, yet Apple seemed to ignore those threats.

Linux is not necessarily impervious to attacks. In 2004, Forrester Research concluded, based on their research, that Linux is not necessarily more secure than Windows. In fact, although Windows's flaws were more severe, Microsoft was quicker to repair security holes than the leading manufacturers of Linux. (The article can be found in LinuxWorld - Forrester Questions Linux Security)

Why are these supposedly impervious operating systems being attacked? As Linux and Apple OS begin to grow and gain a bigger profile, they becomes a larger, more visible target to the villains.

1 comment:

Rrramone said...

Hmmm. 12 with an Apple, and never a virus. Guess I'm lucky. :-)