Mac users warned of bad year for security

The Mac is no longer immune to Windows-like software exploits, and its users should prepare for a rougher year, a report from security vendor Sophos has said.

According to the Sophos Security Threat Report for 2008, the platform now has a critical mass that makes it worthwhile for malware writers to target it in parallel to Windows.

The company notes Mac-specific hacks such as the OSX-RSplug of November 2007, which redirected DNS queries to a compromised website as a typical example of the new species of Mac-hating malware. The novelty of the attack was that the site could detect whether the visitor was a Mac or PC, delivering a different attack to Apple users. Indeed the very popularity of browsers made it much easier for malware to be repurposed for different platforms.

"There are gangs out there who are now writing malware for Macs. That is a big shift," Sophos' Graham Cluley said. "The conveyer belt has been started up for Apple. It is not yet an epidemic for Apple but it is a turning point," he predicted.

"If enough Apple Mac users resist clicking on unsolicited weblinks or downloading unknown code from the web then there's a chance they could send a clear message to the hackers that it's not financially rewarding to target Macs," he said.

He also suggested that the emerging class of Ultramobile PCs, such as the Asus Eee PC, which uses Linux, could in time fall prey to the same broadening of malware-writing horizons.

Sophos was now detecting 6000 compromised websites a day -- equivalent to one every 14 seconds -- which made it almost impossible for users of any platform to protect themselves simply by not visiting certain types of websites. But only around 1 in 5 of these were hacker sites -- the rest were legitimate sites that had been compromised without their owners' knowledge, which rendered them especially dangerous.

The report mentions a long list of innocent-sounding examples, including art galleries, religious sites, and holiday property rental websites, as victims of malware compromise. Overall, most malware was still being written in China, the US, Russia, and a number of eastern European counties, with other European nations some way behind.

Worries over Apple security are nothing new, but have become more urgent in recent months, stating with Apple's Leopard OS. Mac users have even had a taste of the same scareware -- software that attempts to dupe users with bogus alerts - that rarely merits notice in the PC world.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John E. Dunn

Techworld.com
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?