Friday, July 31, 2009

Mac virus news on "BS"NBC

In a Reuters story carried prominently on MSNBC the other day, a headline screamed "Mac flaw could let hackers get scrambled data". Oh, no! What should we do? Are Macs finally as vulnerable as PCs? Is the age of Mac users' misguided security confidence done?

In this order: nothing, no, and no.

Buried -- literally buried in the story, in the ninth paragraph -- is this:
The technique — dubbed "Machiavelli" — exploits a vulnerability in the Mac OS X kernel, the heart of the machine's operating system. It only works on machines that have already been victimized, such as ones attacked with the pirated software.
So, your Mac is fine unless it's been previously hacked, though no explanation is offered as to how this would happen.

That's like proclaiming in a headline "Your car could catch on fire any minute!" -- creating the impression that your little VW could mysteriously explode as if part of a Jerry Bruckheimer film -- and then going on to explain, in the ninth paragraph, that this could only happen if someone doused it in gallons of gasoline and then tossed a lit match onto it.

Way to uphold your journalistic integrity, Jim Finkle and MS (for Microsoft) NBC.