Security: Macs, iPhones, iPads Are Now Bigger Targets for Malware, Attackers

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2012-04-19 Print this article Print


First detected in 2011 as a classic Trojan horse, masquerading as an update to Adobe Flash, the malware evolved into a drive-by exploit that infected the systems of Mac users who visited compromised or malicious sites. The malware infections have dropped over the past couple of weeks, from more than 600,000 to about 140,000, according to Symantec, but the damage has been done to Apple's security reputation.
The recent Flashback malware attack, which at its height infected more than 600,000 Macs—or more than 1 percent of all systems in use worldwide—not only was the largest such incident involving Apple systems, but also the latest in a string of such attacks. The Flashback exploit—and the number of Macs involved—shook the theory that Apple systems are essentially invulnerable to Trojans, viruses and other malware, and also illustrated the company's inexperience in handling such security situations and dealing with the security community. And it also highlighted what security researchers have been saying for a while: that as Apple devices—not only Macs, but also iPhones and iPads—continue to grow in popularity among consumers and businesses alike, so will the interest from scammers. Costin Raiu, a security expert with Kaspersky Lab, wrote in an April 9 post on the company's SecureList blog that attacks on Apple systems will only continue: "At the beginning of 2012, we predicted an increase in the number of attacks on Mac OS X which take advantage of zero-day or unpatched vulnerabilities. This is a normal development, which happens on any other platform with enough market share to guarantee a return on investment for virus writers, so Mac OS X fans shouldn't be disappointed because of this. During the next few months, we are probably going to see more attacks of this kind, which focus on exploiting two main things: outdated software and the user's lack of awareness." Here are some of the malware issues that have targeted Apple during the past 18 months.

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