Is the presence of malware a “healthy” indication of the openness of a given system?
The more open a system is, the less walled-in the garden is, the more malware it must invite by definition. Malware is a sign of people actively discovering and exploring the limits and pushing the boundaries of the system.
It is natural for humans to want to do this. We do it with our physical surroundings every day. We prod and push and poke. We modify things, change things, and test out things. Because we are curious creatures. And fortunately most of us are grown up enough to do this within responsible and respectable limits.
The presence of malware is no reason to unnecessarily wall in a system. An organic garden will attract more pests. And putting the whole thing under a sterile dome is defeating the purpose altogether.
In the ongoing Apple vs Android debate, Apple seem to push the “walled garden is better and safer” route where they (and only they) get to say what material you can create and view, how you can distribute material, how much to charge, and to do so with what technologies. The Android space is more chaotic and “organic” with a relative plethora of tools and just about no restrictions on what you can create and view. Not surprisingly, there will be more malware.
Of course, more malware does not directly mean more likelihood of actually contracting some. I have been using Windows now for 12 years and have encountered exactly the same number of malware infections as when I was on a Mac; zero.
I will always opt for the more open system despite the potential risks. It is a fact of life that we will continue to encounter new diseases as time goes by. But we don’t all scramble to live in sterile bubbles do we? We still stay outside, in the potentially dangerous fresh open air, because we don’t want to be unnecessarily restricted.