Kaspersky: Apple facing Mac malware problem

April 27, 2012

Apple is facing a serious problem, that of malware targeted specifically at Mac computers. So says Eugene Kaspersky, the founder and CEO of security software company Kaspersky.

Apple Macs have never been invulnerable to malware, despite what Apple would have you believe and its legion of fans do believe. All operating systems, no matter what kernel they are built upon, are immune from malware. The only reason Windows is known for being targeted is because Microsoft’s colossal market share meant most hackers and cyber-criminals target Windows exclusively. Or at least that used to be the case.

Now, with Apple’s market share increasing, so are the instances of malware being targeted at and infecting its machines. The recent Flashback trojan infected around 650,000 Macs at its height, and that’s not going to be the last attack by any means. Don’t believe me? Then believe Eugene Kaspersky instead. He recently told CBR:

I think they [Apple] are ten years behind Microsoft in terms of security. For many years I’ve been saying that from a security point of view there is no big difference between Mac and Windows. It’s always been possible to develop Mac malware, but this one [the Flashback trojan] was a bit different.

Cyber criminals have now recognised that Mac is an interesting area. Now we have more, it’s not just Flashback or Flashfake. Welcome to Microsoft’s world, Mac. It’s full of malware. Apple is now entering the same world as Microsoft has been in for more than 10 years: updates, security patches and so on. We now expect to see more and more because cyber criminals learn from success and this was the first successful one.

They will understand very soon that they have the same problems Microsoft had ten or 12 years ago. 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. That’s what Microsoft did in the past after so many incidents like Blaster and the more complicated worms that infected millions of computers in a short time. They had to do a lot of work to check the code to find mistakes and vulnerabilities. Now it’s time for Apple [to do that].

To be fair to Apple, the company has already begun to take steps in safeguarding Macs. Mac OS X now contains a built-in malware scanner called XProtect, and Apple is working on more protection for Mac users. However, that doesn’t detract from Kaspersky’s main argument, that Apple computers will be targeted more from here on in and that Apple will face a battle to beat malware similar to that which Microsoft has already faced.

In the meantime just do yourself a favor if you own a Mac: install some security software and don’t assume you’re immune.

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