Friday, December 21, 2007

An Apple A Day Helps Keep The Bad Guys Away

The U. S. Army has confirmed that it has been for two years quietly adding Apple Macs into its computer mix in order to foil cyber attacks or minimize their damage.

Platform diversification is a sophisticated approach that's being studied by a number of the country's largest computer users. The basic idea to to prevent any one attack from bringing an entire system to its knees by having a percentage of the installed base running on less vulnerable Macs.

Lieutenant Colonel C. J. Wallington, a division chief in the office of enterprise solutions was interviewed at some length by Andy Greenberg, writing in Forbes

Though Apple machines are still pricier than their Windows counterparts, the added security they offer might be worth the cost, says Wallington. He points out that Apple's X Serve servers, which are gradually becoming more commonplace in Army data centers, are proving their mettle. "Those are some of the most attacked computers there are. But the attacks used against them are designed for Windows-based machines, so they shrug them off," he says.
This will become self-fulfilling at some point. Security auditors are never happy with sole-source suppliers. Nor do they appreciate bet-the-farm IT deployments where a single strain of virus or episode of malware could erase data or otherwise make it unavailable or, even worse, make it available to the wrong people. These folks will push for diversity. They'll push for a safe harbor or reservation.

How much better to build a 10% parallel capability that once built provides the resources to expand rapidly if the main system fails or needs to be shut down for an inoculation?

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With the Army willing to take such a high-profile lead, it will not be long until IT departments in very large organizations decide that the Apple way, while not blue, is the most acceptable of the alternatives.

What will surprise many will the the rapidity with which the token percentage grows. After all, it is not the end users within the large companies, basking in warm wave of satisfaction with Windows, that are clamoring for Wintel. Once even 10% get their minds around and hands on a Mac, their colleagues will want one too. Apple's share of the corporate base will look start to look more like its share in the lower end, where end users make their own choices.

Merry Christmas, Apple!

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