Apple: Suddenly Vulnerable?

Maybe Steve Jobs is human after all.

Over the past seven days, reports have surfaced of three new electronic miscreants aimed at Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) Mac OS X computer operating system. That's a first for the Mac maker, and, accordingly, the news stirred up a media firestorm. Comparisons to the virus-ridden beast that is Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Windows OS soon followed. I had intended to pile it on.

But then I read an interesting story at businessweek.com by "Byte of the Apple" columnist Airk Hesseldahl. He asserts that the attacks are much ado about nothing and that the only real threat -- a hack that takes advantage of the Safari browser's propensity to download and immediately open files it deems safe -- can be easily circumvented by using the more secure and extraordinarily popular Firefox browser.

Initial accounts suggest he's right: There have been no reports of damage among the victims of these digital outbreaks.

So why the hysteria? I don't know. Maybe it's that the mainstream media has adopted a "gotcha" mentality when it comes to Apple. That would make sense, given Apple's remarkable run over the past two years. And call me a conspiracy theorist, but I think this morning's news adds a bit of fuel to the fire: Apple announced that the iTunes Music Store has sold more than 1 billion downloads.

No longer just a loss leader for the white-hot iPod, iTunes has become a legitimate source of profits, albeit a small one (a few cents on the dollar), for the company.

Saying Apple has become the heavy in downloadable digital media is putting it very mildly. Its leadership in video downloads is far less assured, of course, but it has sold more than 15 million videos, which makes it a target. No doubt Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) , Microsoft, and others might have some interest in the Mac maker's turf.

Accordingly, I understand why some have chosen to throw jabs. Apple has risen from relative obsolescence to superstardom, after all.

But really now, Jobs? Human? Get real.

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Fool contributorTim Beyersis aiming for a new MacBook Pro before the end of the year. Get to work on the new native software, Apple. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. You can find out what is in his portfolio by checking Tim's Foolprofile. The Motley Fool has an ironcladdisclosure policy.


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