Researchers Chart Leap in Mac Vulnerabilities

The number of security issues reported in relation to Apple's Mac platform has grown substantially over the last three years, according to experts at McAfee.

The volume of security vulnerabilities discovered in Apples Macintosh platform has increased significantly over the last several years, according to a new report released by McAfees Avert Labs.

The security software maker contends that the number of flaws found in the Mac operating system has increased by 228 percent since 2003. While the researchers said the number of serious vulnerabilities isolated in the latest version of Apples operating system software, Mac OS X, is dwarfed by the quantity of problems unearthed in Microsofts rival Windows during the same period, McAfee maintains that as Apples products have become more popular, a larger number of glitches are being identified.

Perhaps even more disturbing, based on how closely Apple can tie its current wave of success to hot-selling consumer multimedia products, McAfee said that many of the reported issues have actually been related to the companys iPod devices and iTunes download service.

Apple representatives didnt immediately return phone calls seeking comment on the report.

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For its part, McAfee released the findings alongside the announcement of its new package of anti-virus applications for Apples Intel-based Macs. The vendors VirusScan for Mactel 8.0 release runs under Apples Rosetta emulator and promises protection from both Macintosh- and Windows-oriented viruses, as well as Trojans and other threats.

"The availability of Mac exploit code on the Internet makes it an open target for the same types of malware currently plaguing the Windows world," Eric Winsborrow, vice president of product marketing at McAfee, said in a statement. "As more companies deploy Mac systems running on the Intel platform in mixed environments, the risks of infection will most likely increase."

Apple has traditionally avoided many of the security issues that have plagued other products such as Windows, but several high-profile issues reported since the beginning of 2006 have thrown the companys Mac platform under additional scrutiny, including the arrival of two worm viruses affecting Mac OS X users.

In March, Apple was forced to release a security update that addressed five separate security vulnerabilities discovered in its Safari Web browser, including one issue for which exploit code was also identified. Another glitch, rated by researchers and the company as "extremely critical," allowed for possible remote code execution attacks on Mac computers if a user simply viewed a maliciously rigged Web page on one of the machines.

In April, Apple released a security bulletin detailing a glitch related to the security content of a version of Sun Microsystems J2SE (Java 2 Standard Edition) Release 4 that it has been making available over its Software Update and Apple Downloads services.

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