According to security expert Eugene Kaspersky, we are at the brink of seeing a significant rise in malware attacks on Mac and Linux platforms. So, are hackers ready to target a broad range of platforms or is this merely hyperbole from a security firm that wants to sell products?
In the PC Pro interview, Kaspersky claims that the reason for the change in tactic on the part of the hackers is Vista's half-hearted reception. In the interview Kaspersky said:
Home users are not so loyal to the OS. Not many of them are satisfied with Microsoft Vista. Some Windows users will switch to other OSes. Microsoft will not lose its dominance, but it will be reduced a bit.
Kaspersky thinks that this shift away from Windows is enough to make Mac and Linux a more appealing target for hackers. What surprises me is that he doesn't quantify how big he thinks that the shift needs to be. Kaspersky also believes that open-source is a double-edged sword:
More people are watching open-source code, so they are more quick to find problems. If the people who make the fix are good guys, that's great; if they are bad guys, that's a problem.
Kaspersky also goes on to list other platforms, such as PlayStation 3 and smartphones, which could also be targets:
If there are viruses for the PlayStation 3, if the situation is such that we have to have protection for these devices, we will have products.
This year they are going to introduce online banking through smartphones and Chinese hackers will turn to smartphone phishing.
Just how would Mac and Linux users feel about having to buy security software and then pay a subscription fee on top of that?While I have great respect and admiration for Kaspersky, I'm skeptical that there's going to be enough of a migration from Windows to Mac or Linux to make hackers all that interested in targeting these platforms. Unless there's a massive shift away from Windows – something which we're not seeing signs of at present, instead what we're seeing is consumers being more interested in XP than Vista – there's going to be more than ample supply of Windows-based victims for hackers. I just can't see the sense in hackers switching focus to Mac and Linux. It doesn't make business sense – and for today’s hackers hacking is business!
I get the impression from the interview that Kaspersky is very much in a brainstorming future products mode, or maybe the interview is partly a trial-balloon to see how the idea of security products for Mac and Linux are received ...
... which is an interesting thought. Just how would Mac and Linux users feel about having to buy security software and then pay a subscription fee on top of that? Hmmm. Because so many Mac and Linux users already believe that their operating systems is secure (or maybe even impervious to malware!) this will make it a very hard sell indeed.