How safe are PowerPC's now?

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Hawaii Cruiser's picture
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Now that Macs are in the Intel world, flying off into new operating systems, leaving the PowerPC far behind, I'm wondering how safe are PowerPC Macs on the internet running Tiger or Leopard, with Firefox or Safari (Google Chrome doesn't work on PowerPC)? Does the processor make a big difference safety wise or is it strictly the browser and OS firewall? I'm wondering if PowerPC's might even actually be the safest platform since no one is probably targeting them at all. Does the obsolescence make it a safer platform, even if less capable? Not that I worry that much about being hacked into with my Mac still yet.

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Dr. Webster's picture
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Re: How safe are PowerPC's now?

OS X has never been much of a target in terms of viruses/spyware/vulnerability exploits, regardless of hardware architecture. Where the real threat is today for most people is not so much endpoint (i.e. personal computer) security as it is information theft, either through compromised accounts on Web sites or spoof attempts. As for the former, it doesn't matter what computer you use; if, say, your Facebook account gets hacked, it gets hacked -- the fault would lie either on you for having a weak password (something easily remedied, incidentally), or Facebook for having a security vulnerability that got exploited.

It's the latter, spoof attempts, where OS and platform can make a difference. There's an excellent recent example of this. Dutch security certificate authority DigiNotar recently got hacked in a major way, such that the attackers were not only able to steal company information but also gained the tools necessary to generate counterfeit SSL certificates. This means that they could generate their own certificate for, say, Gmail, then through DNS poisoning route a user to a facsimile of the Gmail site that the attackers themselves own. Normally, in cases like this either there would be no security certificate or an invalid one for the fake site, which would raise the suspicions of savvy Web surfers that something's not right. However, since the attackers would have been able to generate their own legitimate certificate for their "fake" site, all would look as usual and the oblivious user would try to log into the site -- thus compromising their real Gmail account in the process.

In DigiNotar's case, this is such a big problem that pretty much all of the certificates they've generated -- past and present -- have been invalidated. Both Microsoft and Apple have released OS updates that instruct their respective operating system to reject any certificates authored by DigiNotar. The problem for PowerPC users is that Apple only issued its patch for Snow Leopard and Lion, leaving older versions of OS X still believing that DigiNotar's certificates are valid. This is only going to continue as time goes on.

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gsmcten's picture
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Re: How safe are PowerPC's now?

Doc,

I am getting ready to swith over my routine computer use from a Dell PC (that I have used for the last five years) to a Power Mac G5 (which is undergoing upgrade at the moment).

From all the articles and comments I have been reading, it seems that there is not such a big concern about using earlier versions of OS X (prior to Intel CPU's).

In your experience, what would be the best anti-virus software, utilty software to use?

Steven Smile

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Steven (gsmcten)

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Re: How safe are PowerPC's now?

I'm not exactly Doc Webster but anyway...
I would recommend using ClamXav on your PowerMac (if you aren't already, given the age of this thread). I would also recommend to all PPC users running 10.4/10.5 to run TenFourFox over the outdated Safari and Firefox versions for this platform. The only time I ever run the (Very?) outdated version of Safari on my Mac is when I view YouTube (which I really don't do often because its only 500mhz/512mb ram) using the (Very?) Outdated copy of Flash Player. I have never had ANY security issues on my iMac which is on the internet every day (usually a mix of Facebook and Applefritter)

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