updated 11:50 am EDT, Mon August 11, 2008
Apple hackers increasing
Hackers have started to pay greater attention to Apple devices as their popularity worldwide has expanded. Security experts claim that hackers have focused efforts towards the Windows platform because Microsoft has controlled more than 90 percent of the global market for years. This ensured hackers would have a wealth of targets to exploit.
Cameron Hotchkies, a Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) security analyst, believes Macintosh computers have been gaining market share and in the same process catching the interest of hackers. "It has slowly been growing as a target people are more and more interested in," said the security specialist. Hotchkiesis a part of a team devoted to studying programming holes and crafting "patches" to prevent hackers from exploiting weaknesses, specifically on Apple software.
Hotchkies noted that this year there was a spike in the number of DefCon attendees carrying Macintosh laptops. DefCon is an annual conference where specialists such as Hotchkies gatherer and hold sessions on weakness in todays electronics. It is also noteworthy that more than a thousand people crammed into his DefCon talk about hacking Apple software, a number far greater than seen in the past.
Another problem may be that developers who re-craft their software to work on a Mac, may not be capable of building security components as they are not familiar with platform. "Windows developers take their code and make it work on Apple," Hotchkies said. This, in theory, is good for Macs as it brings familiarity to the OS for potential switchers. "They [windows developers] could take potential vulnerabilities with them or possibly create new ones because they are working on an entirely different platform," explained Hotchkies.
It should be noted that regardless of similar claims over the last 2 years, no attacks have reached Mac OS X consumers. Several proof-of-concept attacks have been displayed, but these typically required users to consent to installation of a 'disguised' virus.