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Apple software more vulnerable than Microsoft, security expert says

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In Apple's famous "I'm a Mac" TV commercials, the Cupertino company frequently implies that its computer software is more secure than Microsoft's operating systems. But a renowned security expert says the truth may be the opposite.

Marc Maiffret, teen hacker turned security expert whom The Times profiled last year, recently told CNET that Apple is far behind Microsoft in the quest to lock up software vulnerabilities.

Security experts have long claimed that Apple's Mac system would experience far more attacks if it wasn't such a niche platform. Even as Apple sees unprecedented success as a computer manufacturer, it is still the sole seller of hardware that runs its proprietary programs. A recent report from Web analytics company Net Applications puts Mac's market share at 5.3%.

Maiffret agrees with the niche market claim, but he goes a step further to say that Macs are actually less secure. He tells CNET that Apple has "really only begun in the last six months or so taking security seriously and understanding that it impacts their business in a serious way."

Apple didn't respond to e-mail requests for comment.

That doesn't stop virus makers from zeroing in on Windows. On Thursday, the BBC reported that a bug spreading through Japanese file-sharing sites publishes a victim's Web history and demands a fee for its removal.

Adobe Systems, which seems to have a rivalry going with Apple recently, is no better off in the realm of security, Maiffret said in the CNET interview. Adobe makes systems such as Flash and Air, which allows developers to build software that runs on both Windows and Mac.

-- Mark Milian
twitter.com/markmilian

Photo: John Hodgman, left, and actor Justin Long in one of their popular television commercials for Apple. Credit: Mac.com

 
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