Despite Apple’s well-publicised claims that Macs are safer than their PC-based rivals, security expert Charlie Miller, author of The Mac Hacker’s Handbook, says that "Snow Leopard's more secure than [previous release] Leopard, but it's not as secure as Vista or Windows 7." Mr Miller says that Apple missed an opportunity to make Snow Leopard more secure when it ignored the security developments Microsoft had made three years ago in building Windows Vista. He points to a system called address space layout randomization (ASLR), which "randomly assigns data to memory to make it tougher for attackers to determine the location of critical operating system functions, and thus make it harder for them to craft reliable exploits." Mr Miller says that Leopard’s ASLR was substandard, and Apple have failed to address the issues. He said: "Apple didn't change anything. It's the exact same ASLR as in Leopard, which means it's not very good." He had made the same criticisms when Leopard was originally released. He concedes, however, that Apple have plugged some security holes, notably in QuickTime.
At the moment, says Mr Miller, Mac users are far less likely to get hacked than PC users. However, that is simply due to numbers: there aren’t enough Macs to make it worthwhile for hackers. He says: "It's harder to write exploits [hacks] for Windows than the Mac, but all you see are Windows exploits. "That's because if [the hacker] can hit 90 per cent of the machines out there, that's all he's gonna do. It's not worth him nearly doubling his work just to get that last 10 per cent." However, Snow Leopard has still outshone both Leopard and the previous system Tiger in first-week sales, by a distance. It has sold twice as many copies as Leopard did in its first week, and almost four times as many as Tiger. (www.telegraph.co.uk)