Apple Needs to Play Catch-up with Security

Sue Marquette Poremba

I have a confession to make. I have long rolled my eyes whenever one of my friends or colleagues would hop up on their soap box to sing the praises of their safe and secure Mac, all while bragging that they never had to worry about a virus or deal with downloading any software to protect their computer. Maybe I'm cynical or maybe I'm paranoid or maybe I'm just a pessimist, but I think having blind faith in your OS or the company is just setting yourself up for a fall.


The Flashback Trojan now has put Mac security in the spotlight, and it isn't a good spotlight. It appears that all those years of "not having to worry about security" has caught up with Apple and, by default, Mac users.


First there is the news from the Sophos Naked Security blog. Graham Cluley wrote that one in five Mac computers harbor Windows malware. Cluley wrote:


A 100,000 strong snapshot of the millions of Mac computers which have recently downloaded Sophos's free Mac anti-virus software, revealed that 20% of Mac computers were carrying one or more instances of Windows malware.


This malware won't cause symptoms to show up on the Mac unless you also run Windows, but the malware can be spread to other computers.


Even worse, he went on to say, is that one in 36 of those Mac computers with the free AV download were found to be infected with Mac OS X malware.


Then there is the news from Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of Kaspersky Lab. He made headlines this past week when he said that Mac security is a decade behind Windows security. CNET quoted Kaspersky:

"They will understand very soon that they have the same problems Microsoft had 10 or 12 years ago," Kaspersky said in an interview. "They will have to make changes in terms of the cycle of updates and so on and will be forced to invest more into their security audits for the software."


Kaspersky went on to say that cybercriminals have caught up to the Apple phenomena and find it an "interesting area."


It was bound to happen. Security experts have been saying it for some time now, that Apple software wasn't a target because the vast majority of computer users favored Windows. But now the Apple OS is everywhere. It has moved into the workspace beyond publications and graphic design departments. All of those kids who had to use Mac machines in school have grown up and are used to using Mac OS for everything. Cybercriminals have figured that out.


Now we get to see how Apple responds to its welcome into the world that Windows has long known, the world of malware.

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