Symantec Exec Says Mac Users More Tech Savvy

In an interview with news Website, Ollie Whitehouse, an architect with Symantec's Security Response Advanced Threat Research team, trotted out the oft-cited idea that Apple's smaller desktop market share is one reason why Macs haven't been targeted by hackers on a grand scale.

However, Whitehouse also asserted that part of the reason why there has been a relative lack of Mac-specific exploits is that Mac users are more aware of the danger than PC users.

"I believe in part that historically the user base of Apple products are more technically knowledgeable - they're a bit wiser. So they're not necessarily as susceptible to the typical confidence tricks and so forth," Whitehouse said.

Several security solution providers told CMP Channel they believe that the logic of Whitehouse's statement is fundamentally flawed.

Sponsored post

"That comment is just ridiculous," said Andrew Plato, president at Anitian Enterprise Security, a Beaverton, Ore.-based security solution provider. "While many IT people prefer the ease of use and style of Macs, the reality is that Macs are mostly in the hands of average folks with limited IT skills."

John Eaton, president of EatonAssociates, an Apple solution provider in San Francisco, also disagrees with the notion that Mac users are more aware of security risks than PC users. "To assume that the knowledge of the user is related to the problems with viruses and spyware is incorrect, in my opinion," he said.

"When it comes to identity theft, phishing and other 'confidence tricks' that are typically email or Web based I don't see any higher level of sophistication on one platform or the other," Eaton said.

However, Michael Oh, president of Boston-based solution provider Tech Superpowers, says there are elements of truth to Whitehouse's statement. "It's not necessarily that Mac users are smarter or dumber, but that they're more technically knowledgeable -- that has been our experience as well," said Oh.

If anything, PC users have a much higher awareness of security issues and take more precautions than Mac users, according to Eaton. "They certainly purchase more software to protect themselves," he noted.

Symantec declined to comment for this story. Apple couldn't be reached for comment.