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Critics: Malware threat low, but real

updated 10:50 am EDT, Thu July 12, 2007

Critics: Virus threat low

A number of commentators are suggesting that the overall threat of viruses and other malware to the Mac remains low. Business IT site Silicon.com notes that while roughly 100 vulnerabilities have been revealed in Mac OS X this year, this is still dwarfed by those in Windows, mainly because of Apple's automatic updating software and the general lack of attention paid by malware coders. Says Patrik Runald, senior security specialist at F-Secure, "There are no viruses really for OS X - there have been a few - but, from that point of view, the likelihood of you getting hit on an Apple is insignificant compared to PCs."

This view is echoed by the director of content research at CA, Jakub Kaminski. "There are a couple of specific [OS X issues] but, in the whole scale, in the whole picture, it is nothing."

Conversely however, CA's vice president of development warns that the Mac OS is not somehow more resistant to malware than Windows. "Actually, the Mac is as vulnerable as everything else," says Eugene Dozortsev. "Don't make any false assumptions that there are no viruses on Mac. A lot of things like Trojans and email worms [affect a Mac] the same as they would in the PC world."

The iPhone is described as an additional malware path by the analyst group Gartner, which has cautioned that it could "punch a hole" in corporate security networks, since it has no firewalls and its e-mail is generally insecure. But the true extent of this threat is unknown, according to Runald. "We are getting our first iPhone in the lab this week and we will see what we can do with it," he muses. "There have been thoughts about Safari and some ideas about what else could potentially be used but, as of now, we just don't know."

Runald notes that it may take widespread popularity for this danger to become evident. "As the iPhone's popularity grows, we are going to see more threats targeting Apple. It...is logical -- Windows is the primary operating system used today, which is why we see the most threats. Symbian is the primary operating system for mobile phones, which is why we see most threats for Symbian."




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. eldarkus

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    great..

    Talk to me when the lab tests are complete. otherwise, don't speculate on anything.

  1. UberFu

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    No s*** !

    how about - Quit wasting my time about Mac Viruses until - there are as much anti-Apple folks out there writing virus' for the Mac as there are for Winoze_

  1. UberFu

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    and...

    in other news - the sky is still NOT Green !!

  1. Herod

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    but...

    didnt our friends at M$ tell us otherwise a few weeks back about their bullet-proof vista platform?

    im confused on who to believe now........

  1. robttwo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    this is never brought up

    People always say - hackers dont bother with MACs cause there arent enough of them.

    The truth is that hackers despise MS. Write a PC virus and everyone thinks youre cool, write a MAC one and everyone thinks youre an a******.

    This was hyperbole, but you get the point.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    huh?

    while roughly 100 vulnerabilities have been revealed in Mac OS X this year, this is still dwarfed by those in Windows, mainly because of Apple's automatic updating software

    Actually, between the two, Windows' automatic software update is a lot better then apple's. It can be set up to run and install automatically, regardless of the privileges of the user logged in, and will run even if no one is logged in. Meanwhile, on a mac, you have to log in as an administrator even to find out there's an update.

    didnt our friends at M$ tell us otherwise a few weeks back about their bullet-proof vista platform?

    They didn't specify Vista, they specified "Windows", which covers all versions of said software. And malware isn't something that gets through via security holes as much as through user interaction (or inaction?) and trojans. Oh, and the crappy default settings in IE they used to have (my mortgage company used to have on its website a notice that basically told its users to change their security setting in IE to LOW - yes, LOW - because it only worked that way; it didn't quite give me that warm fuzzy you're hoping for with your financial info).

  1. phillymjs

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Wrong again, testudo

    "Meanwhile, on a mac, you have to log in as an administrator even to find out there's an update."

    Nope. Behold the magic of shell scripting and launchd! All the Macs under my control automatically download and install approved updates (from a SUS on a local OS X Server), whether someone is logged in or not.

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