The irrelevance of Apple vs Windows…

Dear Internet,

In my circle of friends and loved ones, I am regarded more or less as a geek/nerd/computerdude.  Got a computer poo poo? Give Bart a call, he'll fix it. I am sure some of you out there will recognise this scenario.

One of the F.A.Q.'s I get is: "Which one is better Mac or PC, and should I use windows or *nix?"

Now, you should know that I switched from windows to mac for my home use in december 2008. I must admit one of the catalysts for changing was my annoyance with some of windows' features and (lack) of user friendliness. I'll come to that in a second. But the short answer to the above question?"Neither". And, "it depends on what you want to do".

Lately i have seen more than once some articles, blog posts, tweets and other online material and even heard some podcast I which the zealous crusadelike war between mac-fans and windows adepts wages on and on and on…. One of the topics of "discussion" is superiority in the field of security à la the famous (and humorous) mac ads. (e.g. an article in wired.com)

Let me put it simple:

"Each and every system is potentially  vulnerable and suffers from weaknesses, regardless of operating system or hardware platform."

Huh, say again?

No I will not repeat it as it is crystal clear. I will however clarify. Wether or not you should buy a certain computer system depends on a collection of requirements that are mostly personal and dependent on the profile of the future user of the system. Secrity needs can be (should be) an element in that collection of pre-requisites. But first and foremost, it is my opinion that, usefulness and user friendliness should come first. Security is an important, but in most cases -there are exceptions- secondary requirement for computer use.
Ok, before all you security gurus start spamming my box with flame mail, let me elaborate.
Ask yourself this qustions (and answer it): What is the added value of a -potentially- hack-proof über-secure computer system if it is virtually unusable by its user base? I'll share my answer: None whatsoever!
A computer user wants to get his work done, either at home or at work, nowadays preferably online. Ergo, first and foremost a user is interested in functionality and ease of use, not in security. And rightly so. It is, in my humble opinion, our duty as security professionals to deliver this functionality in a secure online ecosystem.
What does a good computer system entail? Well, first of all useability. In my book that does not mean tons of features, but a selection of functionalities that is easily customized to personal needs. Secondly, existing functionality should remain in the same location and operate in the same way as before, unless there are serious arguments to change that, e.g. a security issue can encourage a developer to change the way a function works or is accessed.
So my answer to the question Mac or PC:
Whatever system answers best your computer needs. This can be Mac, it can be PC. Either way, if you go online, you expose your system to secuity risks. Protect yourself against these risks and you are good to go. If you do not mind that familiar functions change places and modus operandi, go with windows. On the other hand if you want a system that looks familiar with every update or upgrade, go with Mac. Do you want an open system, which can run almost anything? Go for windows or *nix (and mac) But if you value a system that is more closed, in which components are validated towards compatibility with each other? Go for a Mac.
Your computer of choice should be an anwser to your computer needs, not a "prescribed" choice inspired by a zealous "belief" of superiority.
Each system or OS has its benefits and weaknesses. Which one is more you, depends entirely on what you wnat to do.
As for OSses, they all have basically the same function: be a layer of abstraction and an interface between the hardware and applications and manage the resources provided by the hardware, so that all the users and applications vying for them are satisfied in a timely and efficient manner. How they address these issues does not make them better than the next OS, only potentially vulnerable to other sets of weaknesses and flaws.

No I will not repeat it as it is crystal clear. I will however clarify. Wether or not you should buy a certain computer system depends on a collection of requirements that are mostly personal and dependent on the profile of the future user of the system. Secrity needs can be (should be) an element in that collection of pre-requisites. But first and foremost, it is my opinion that, usefulness and user friendliness should come first. Security is an important, but in most cases -there are exceptions- secondary requirement for computer use.

Ok, before all you security gurus start spamming my box with flame mail, let me elaborate.

Ask yourself this qustions (and answer it): What is the added value of a -potentially- hack-proof über-secure computer system if it is virtually unusable by its user base? I'll share my answer: None whatsoever!

A computer user wants to get his work done, either at home or at work, nowadays preferably online. Ergo, first and foremost a user is interested in functionality and ease of use, not in security. And rightly so. It is, in my humble opinion, our duty as security professionals to deliver this functionality in a secure online ecosystem.

What does a good computer system entail? Well, first of all useability. In my book that does not mean tons of features, but a selection of functionalities that is easily customized to personal needs. Secondly, existing functionality should remain in the same location and operate in the same way as before, unless there are serious arguments to change that, e.g. a security issue can encourage a developer to change the way a function works or is accessed.

So my answer to the question Mac or PC:

Whatever system answers best your computer needs. This can be Mac, it can be PC. Either way, if you go online, you expose your system to secuity risks. Protect yourself against these risks and you are good to go. If you do not mind that familiar functions change places and modus operandi, go with windows. On the other hand if you want a system that looks familiar with every update or upgrade, go with Mac. Do you want an open system, which can run almost anything? Go for windows or *nix (and mac) But if you value a system that is more closed, in which components are validated towards compatibility with each other? Go for a Mac.

Your computer of choice should be an anwser to your computer needs, not a "prescribed" choice inspired by a zealous "belief" of superiority.

Each system or OS has its benefits and weaknesses. Which one is more you, depends entirely on what you wnat to do.

As for OSses, they all have basically the same function: be a layer of abstraction and an interface between the hardware and applications and manage the resources provided by the hardware, so that all the users and applications vying for them are satisfied in a timely and efficient manner. How they address these issues does not make them better than the next OS, only potentially vulnerable to other sets of weaknesses and flaws.

Just my 2 cents.

Stay Secure! And compute happily…