Graham Clulely, senior technology consultant at email and web security provider Sophos, believes that Windows has become an unsuitable operating system for unsophisticated home users who are unable to stay abreast of the security requirements necessary to safely go online. What's more, Clulely does not expect this to change with the release of Vista.
"I'm sure that Vista will be a big step forward in terms of security. We fully expect Vista to be a big improvement. However, the issue is less about the operating system and more about the threat environment which is happening," says Clulely. "There's no doubt there will be improved security on Vista but there's no such thing as 100% security. We can be sure that the financially motivated hackers will continue to target Windows users as long as there is a substantial number of them. So we will for sure see Windows Vista specific hacks."
Sophos caused a stir earlier today when it released its latest security report accompanied by a media release which quoted Clulely recommending that home users switch from Windows PCs to Apple Macintosh computers because of security issues. Clulely and Sophos continue to stand by the statement. "The reason we said that some home users should consider switching to Macintosh is because if you look at the top 10 viruses we've reported on for the first six months of this year, some of them are really old," Cluley told iTWire.
We are sick and tired of talking about these old viruses that are still hanging around. We don't believe that businesses are being affected by these because they're pretty clued up these days. We're talking about home computer users who may be running no security tools on their computer or may have installed one a couple of years ago and they haven't updated it. We've been trying to teach those sort of people about security for the last 15 to 20 years. We might have to concede that this portion of the user base can't seem to cope with the requirement to keep their PC protected. It may be wise for them to simply move out of that environment and switch over to Macintosh which can do all the things they use their regular PCs for but Macintosh isn't targeted anywhere near as much.
"When my friends and family tell me that they're thinking about getting a new computer these days, I tell them to get a Mac if they're worried by things such as pop-up adverts. For those people who aren't geeks, I believe this is good advice." But doesn't that just shift home users out of harm's way temporarily? If enough of them switch to Mac, won't virus writers simply start to target them as well? Not according to Clulely. "For those people who are struggling, they're probably going to be a lot better off with a Macintosh and probably for a long time to come," he says. "The PC market is so big that it's the environment to be in for the hackers looking for a profit."
But what about cost considerations of switching from a PC to a Mac? According to Clulely, it would probably be much the same as upgrading to Vista.