MacIntosh vs. Windows: Choosing to take a bite of the Apple

WinTel finally broke my back. Or perhaps it was that last series of inexplicable crashes, dirty reinstalls and similar constant complaints from co-workers and friends.

WinTel finally broke my back, and I wanted to know why.

I was a PC bigot and I am still a security guy.

Having lived on PC [DOS, Win, etc.] for 25 years, I, like so many other people, just assumed [ASSuME] that Macs were toys and PCs were for us grownups. I also assumed that the endless assault upon my digital being was a God Given Right of the bad guys and I was just going to have to deal with it. I also assumed, without ever looking into it in detail, that desktop/laptop security woes were a ubiquitous reality.

I was wrong. So I decided to examine the security issues I was facing and see what I could do about them. But there was a lot more than that.

If PCs are supposed to be for Ma & Pa and the masses, how come I spend so much time making my machine live? How come these blasted useful devices are so much more difficult than a toaster or a microwave or a car? What was the Ma & Pa of the universe doing?

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Then I thought about the security of the desktop -- not from the traditional bits, bytes and patches viewpoint, but from the one in which I was trained: as a systems engineer. Once I began viewing desktop security from that vantage point, things became exquisitely clear.

I had been wrong all of these years, having been sucked into the popular maelstrom of blinded WinTel acceptance, and all of the security problems that come with choosing that technology for mission critical work.

The "experiment' I began on April 29 has unexpectedly caused a frenzy of examination of the security aspects of the PC, and I guess a lot of folks are reading about my transitions.

NOTE: I bought my Macs. Retail. I do not know Steve Jobs. I have no Apple stock. I am not a paid Mac whore. OK?

In the "Mad as Hell" series, I will be exploring:

  • How to make Ma & Pa happy campers again.
  • Why the fear of computing is slowly being cleansed from my carbon system.
  • How I believe we can vastly improve the national security of this country, its critical infrastructures and safe corporate computing.
  • How to really make security an enabler versus an inhibitor.
  • If I am correct, I believe that by viewing PC security differently, we can save our country tens of billions of dollars every year, and measurably increase productivity within the corporate world while simultaneously reducing costs.
The "Mad as Hell" series is about security -- period. Do not expect uber-geekinesss. There are plenty of folks who can do that more admirably than me. I am terrifically interested in the Big Security Picture and what we can all do to drastically improve it with minimal pain or cost.

Thanks for listening.

Want to read other installments in the series?

This series will be updated twice weekly so don't forget to check back, it may benefit your organization.

Mad as Hell archive

About the author
Winn Schwartau is one of the country's leading experts on information security, infrastructure protection and electronic privacy. Schwartau is president and founder of Interpact Inc., The Security Awareness Company, which develops information security awareness programs for private, public and government organizations.

This was first published in June 2005

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