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."