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Macs could pose network security risks

updated 02:20 pm EDT, Mon April 10, 2006

Macs threaten networks

Mac users could unknowingly contribute to growing network security and virus problems, despite their relative immunity to most viruses. An executive from McAfee has said that Macs pose a potential threat to network security because they can incubate infected files which only Attack Windows systems, and because Mac users are lax with regard to security practices. Allan Bell, Asia Pacific marketing director of McAfee, says that many Mac users are not as vigilant as they should be, and that sloppy security practices on Mac systems may enable Windows viruses to lay dormant on Macs to later infecting Windows machines, according to ITWire. [updated]

"An issue [Mac] users need to be aware of is that in some cases they can be a carrier -- effectively a Typhoid Mary," Bell said. "That is because you can have infected files on the Macintosh that do not infect the Macintosh but at a later date those get transferred across to a Windows machine which they can infect. Macintosh users still need to be scanning for Windows viruses to make sure that they've got clean files and don't have infected files that they can pass on."

Bell said that the issue is based on enterprise policy and training.

"There is a danger that organizations which are 100 percent Macintosh and that are using Windows but are not frequent users of Windows, then they may not be aware of the security issues and could leave themselves open," Bell said.

"Ultimately, organizations need to make sure they're secure and they have to be aware of the security issues that exist for all platforms. [...] It's possible to secure and scan all files that are coming across to the Macintosh at the gateway. If you're running a dual boot system, make sure you've got adequate security on the Windows side of that system. It's just a matter of making sure you are security minded," the executive added.

The McAfee marketing director pointed to rising threats on the Mac platform itself, and indicated that the Mac world is not as responsive as it should be to potential threats, according to the report.

"The overall threat level is a lot lower than the threat level for Windows users but that's changing. In terms of vulnerabilities we see vulnerabilities on all systems out there but most do not attract exploits," Bell continued.

"For the Macintosh, there are a lot of vulnerabilities but often there are no exploits for them and eventually they get patched. But people are slow to patch them and those systems are open to attack. The people who are writing these attacks are not writing as many attacks for the Macintosh systems but that may change in the future as the Macintosh becomes more popular," Bell said.

"In the dual boot situation, when they're booted into the Windows system, they are just as vulnerable to attacks as is the average Windows user."

by MacNN Staff



  1. Spacemoose

    Joined: Dec 1969



    McAfee representative: *waves arms in air* We're RELEVANT! Honestly, there's a reason we exist. Pay us or your are DOOMED!" *waves arms in air*

  1. Albert

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Yeah Right

    instead all us mac users should allow ourselves to be hyjacked for a subscription fee.

    McAfee techs should all be thrown in jail for cyber terrorism.

    these are the real thuggs and thieves in the flesh.

  1. couch11



    You're kidding, right?

    So they are telling us that we are a securtiy risk because we might re-infect Windows machines? Wouldn't the Windows boxes be running anti-virus software? Oh, maybe their McAfee Anti-virus software doesn't work properly or something?

  1. siMac

    Joined: Dec 1969


    false logic...

    How would we get a virus if it didn't come from a Windows computer originally? Maybe *they* should be more security conscious to prevent them sending *us* infected files in the first place.

  1. lockhartt

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Come on...

    What files are a Mac user going to keep that could infect a Windows computer... .exe files? .scr files? .pif files? Why?!

    People don't tend to hold on to programs that don't run on their computer.

    Now this does not take into account any Office macro virii, or the whole new twist that Boot Camp and running Windows on Intel Macs adds to the mix... but that's not what he seems to be talking about here.

    In his defense, Mac users do tend to be naive and lax when it comes to security and Apple does need to dramatically step up its efforts in this area... but to say that Mac users need to buy antivirus software to make sure that infected files on their computer don't end up in the hand of a Windows user is crazy for the Mac user population in general. The only time this logic makes sense is in a corporate or educational networked environment... where this should be common sense (though it's often not).

  1. jaredbkt

    Joined: Dec 1969



    So I am supposed foot the bill for people who still use the antiquated and insecure Windows platform? No thanks and no way.

  1. Hobeaux

    Joined: Dec 1969



    >maybe their McAfee Anti-virus software doesn't work properly or something?

    Oh, snap!

  1. vickys_box

    Joined: Dec 1969



    He's a marketing guy, wheeling himself out for the Windows on Mac debate.

  1. Mosi

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I think the guys from McAfee will try to tell you anything to sell there software for Mac users. Probably the are so brainwashed they even believe what they say...

    Still I had to laugh about this one. Is this the backdoor strategy to sell their product? "Come on, if you don't care about your security think about all the poor PeeSees you could infect by accidence!" Ha! As lockhartt already said the .exe files get rapidly deleted on the average mac. And can this guy explain me why the one infected and inactive file on the disk shoulfd be as dangerous as the active file on the PC spreading itself thousand times all over the disk, Email and Internet?

  1. jason98

    Joined: Dec 1969


    McAfee Free

    I got a free copy of McAfee with my dot-Mac account, and frankly can't be bothered to run it. I have the DAT files up to date, but every time I do a full hard drive check, nothing ever comes up, after over an hour of running. Am I supposed to do a virus scan just to avoid passing on a virus? It seems that I don't get them. Am I just doing something right, or maybe I'm lucky, or maybe Macs don't get infected so can't pass on infections. Why should we be paying to support the virus software Mafia.

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