Mac Leopard One of the things that Windows is always heavily criticized for is the lack of security features out-of-the-box. Windows XP and Vista do come with free firewalls, and Vista has the new User Account Control (UAC), but people still expect it to do more.

Mac’s, on the other hand, never seem to be looked at from a security perspective because you hear little about Mac viruses and what not. Because Mac’s are virtually virus free doesn’t mean that you are completely secure though, as some reports are already starting to point out.

Interestingly enough the Leopard firewall is disabled by default, and that’s probably to ensure that older applications don’t have problems connecting to the Internet. After all, Apple is trying to give the best user experience possible. Even with it enabled, however, Heise Security still didn’t feel secure:

Worse still, a user who, for security purposes, has previously activated the firewall on his or her Mac will find that, after upgrading to Leopard, the system restarts with the firewall deactivated.

In contrast to, for example, Windows Vista, the Leopard firewall settings fail to distinguish between trusted networks, such as a protected company network, and potentially dangerous wireless networks in airports or even direct internet connections. Leopard initially takes the magnanimous position of trusting all networks equally.

However, initial functional testing quickly dispels any feeling of improved security.

Microsoft made that same mistake when they shipped Windows XP back in 2001. They turned off the firewall by default, and had the configuration screen buried away so that a majority of users would never find it. They compensated for their mistakes when they released XP SP2, which shipped with the Windows Firewall enabled by default. I mean really, what’s the point of a security feature that a company isn’t confident enough to enable out-of-the-box?

Apple has sold over 2 million copies of Leopard in the opening weekend, but some of these users might be getting a false sense of security.

Thanks to S and CoryC for the tips!