Hack A Mac: University Briefly Puts Up OS X Hack Contest

Complaining that a previously reported successful Mac OS X hack attempt was "woefully misleading," Dave Schroeder of the University of Wisconsin put a Mac mini on the Web this past Monday and challenged hackers to break in. However, after pledging to keep the Mac online through Friday, Schroeder pulled the Mac offline Tuesday, stating that "the test \[had\] illustrated its point" because the Mac had not been hacked. However, even Schroeder admitted that his short-lived test didn't actually prove the Mac's resiliency, as it was really just a test of the Apache Web server's security capabilities. Because Mac guys aren't as used to being hacked as Windows folks, I'll cut him some slack, and I certainly don't fault him for his efforts. But let's be clear here: Most Windows PCs are hacked via email, their Web browser, or instant messaging (IM), not through a built-in Web server that isn't installed to begin with. If OS X were in use as much as Windows, I have little doubt that hackers would find exploits in these end-user applications on the Mac, just as they do with Windows today. So, is OS X as unsecure as Windows? No, of course not. But it benefits as much from its small user base as it does from its inherently more secure underpinnings

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