Will Apple transition to x86 hardware mean that Mac users will now face the security issues that have long affected Windows users? I believe it will. Apple has thus far remained fairly safe mostly due to the combination of:
- Small Market: Macs have a small, but growing, market share (traditionally Macs have had highest concentration in the graphic arts industry)
- Limited Use: Macs normally aren’t used in situations that hackers tend to target
But with a growing market, and the switch to Intel hardware, Macs are bringing a lot more attention to their share of the market. Some argue that it’s not the hardware that matters, it’s the OS for which it’s written, which is a valid argument. But in this case the promise of a faster more versatile Mac will help further propel its popularity outside its traditional user base (home and graphic design) and carve out larger shares of other markets. So it’s only a matter of time before deft hackers adapt to OSX–they just need a reason.
Security companies have the opportunity to be proactive, to an extent, about the threat to the new breed of Macs. But will they take the opportunity with so little to gain at the moment?