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I just finished reading an article on Remote BSOD errors on Windows 7 and I had a question about the content. Specifically this line:

Apple's software [...] has gotten more secure with the latest release, whose 64-bit memory space prevents certain kinds of memory attacks from working properly.

To me this statement (although correct) seems absurd since a windows system running 64-bit memory would also prevent certain kinds of memory attacks from working as well.

Is there a gap in my knowledge of Mac/Windows 64-bit memory? Or did the article fail to mention this for Windows?

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+2 for insight. -1 for a potential Mac vs Win fanbois war. –  caliban Sep 8 '09 at 18:03
I doubt Mac OS is any more secure than Windows. It's just targeted less. –  alex Sep 8 '09 at 18:11
@alex oh ho, now you must die for saying that!! :) –  caliban Sep 8 '09 at 18:18
@alex: You're pretty much right. I've commonly heard that Leopard was less secure than Vista, but due to being targeted less, was safer. Snow Leopard was supposed to come closer security-wise, but a large targeting base is what lets exploits get found, exploited, and fixed. –  Will Eddins Sep 8 '09 at 18:26

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

This would be correct, that 64-bit Windows also benefits from address randomization across a wider range to better prevent brute-force memory address attacks. Since the Windows bug in the article is network-related, I think it's irrelevant to 64-bitness.

Apple's statement is even more misleading, since only the newest Macs even boot into a 64-bit kernel in Snow Leopard, while most macs will still be using a 32-bit kernel and don't get this additional security benefit at all. See this article for a reference.

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Ah, but applications recompiled in 64 bit such as Safari will gain better defense against such attacks. Kernel, no. Apps, yes. –  caliban Sep 8 '09 at 18:19
@scoopdreams: Do you have a reference for that? From what I understand, either 2 things are going on: 64-bit applications are translated to 32-bit on the fly by the OS where they might just use a 32-bit address space, or the universal binaries contain 32-bit and 64-bit versions (which many applications do now, universal binaries are not only for combining PPC/Intel) –  Will Eddins Sep 8 '09 at 18:24
Never mind, I suppose my own article addresses that and says the same thing, so I probably just don't really understand how they accomplish this. –  Will Eddins Sep 8 '09 at 18:28
Even if the kernel boots in 32-bit mode, most apps run in 64-bit mode with 64-bit address space (assuming you have a capable CPU, of course). –  Nate Sep 8 '09 at 19:43

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