Just as Apple Computer launched a new ad touting OSX's resilience against viruses, the Macintosh operating system and applications have come under fire for harboring serious security flaws.

Security software vendor McAfee, The SANS Institute and independent researchers have all recently published reports slamming Mac security.

It's a big switch for the computer company that has long enjoyed a reputation for creating software that's immune to the nastier aspects of "iLife."

Security vendor McAfee released a whitepaper on Friday on the state of Mac security.

According to McAfee, from 2003 to 2005 the annual rate of vulnerability discovery on Apple's Mac OS platform has increased by 228 percent, compared to Microsoft's products, which only saw a 73 percent increase.

That may be comparing Apples to oranges, but McAfee also noted that, "as demonstrated by its March 2006 patch, which corrected 20 vulnerabilities, Apple's Mac OS platform is just as vulnerable to targeted malware attacks as other operating systems."

On May 1 the SANS Institute, a computer-security organization, listed "rapid growth in critical vulnerabilities being discovered in Mac OS X" as the No. 1 concern on its list of the 20 most important threats in computer security.

The report went on to say "OS X still remains safer than Windows, but its reputation for offering a bulletproof alternative to Windows is in tatters."

A lot of people have been thinking of Apple as not having any vulnerabilities, said Rohit Dhamankar, editor of @RISK and the SANS Top 20, and manager of security research at 3Com.

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