Kaspersky: Mac market share means more malware

Kaspersky: Mac market share means more malware

Summary: Kaspersky says the growing market share of Apple Macs means basically two things: antivirus software is now a necessity for Mac users and "Mac OS X invulnerability is a myth."

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The Flashback Trojan that infected over 600,000 Apple Macs earlier this month was quickly followed by the discovery of two other Mac-specific Trojans: one that also exploited Java and another that exploited Microsoft Word. The resulting hubbub was deafening. Everyone with a Mac wanted to know how vulnerable their computer was, and everyone else wanted to weigh in on the Mac malware debate. For its part, Kaspersky confirmed today what many have been saying for years: as Macs are becoming more popular, malware writers are increasingly targeting them.

In a post titled "OS X Mass Exploitation - Why Now?" the security firm answers the question with "Market share!" Here are the details:

In 2011, Apple was estimated to account for over 5% of worldwide desktop/laptop market share. This barrier was a significant one to break - Linux maintains under 2% market share and Google ChromeOS even less. This 15 year peak coincided with the first exploration by the aggressive FakeAv/Rogueware market targeting Apple computers, which we discovered and posted in April 2011 and later in May 2011, which no longer seem to be such an odd coincidence. Also, the delay in Apple malware until now most likely was not because Apple exploits were unavailable, or because the Mac OS X system is especially hardened. The 2007 "Month of Apple Bugs" demonstrated that the Mac OS X and supporting code is full of exploitable flaws. Safari, Quicktime, and other software on Apple devices is regularly exploited during pwnage contests, but widespread cybercrime attention hadn't caught on until this past year.

There's more. In addition to that blog post (read it in full for more information about the current state of Mac security), Kaspersky held a press conference this morning during which the company basically tried to get across two things: antivirus software is now a necessity for Mac users and "Mac OS X invulnerability is a myth."

"Market share brings attacker motivation," the firm told members of the press in its presentation, according to Ars Technica. "Expect more drive-by downloads, more Mac OS X mass-malware. Expect cross-platform exploit kits with Mac-specific exploits."

See also:

Topics: Software, Apple, Hardware, Malware, Operating Systems, Security

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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94 comments
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  • Well, they would say that.

    Wake me when some Antivirus software on the Mac can detect something before the patches are out.

    That's the acid test - and thus far they've all failed.
    jeremychappell
    • True, dat!

      [nt]

      EDIT: What Jeremy said is true. I can verify that. I've been fully patched before the AV guys get around to it. These 'minus' votes must be coming from some very bitter people.
      Info-Dave
  • Kaspersky's looking for new customers

    Hence the fear, uncertanity and doubt. They have Apple AV subscriptions to sell and it's in their best monetary interest to keep this alive.
    CaviarClear
    • Partly true...

      Whilst they want to sell anti-malware software, it doesn't make what they are saying untrue.

      OS X was a lot stronger than Windows XP, but Windows Vista and Windows 7 have raised the game and made it hard to exploit. OS X wasn't targetted, so exploitable holes weren't patched quickly. Apple has been caught napping, now that malware writers are looking for easier pickings.

      Don't get me wrong, OS X isn't in the woeful state that XP found itself in, but it is also a long way from perect and Apple seem to have bought their own marketing, that they are safe from attack.

      Is anti-malware software on OS X necessary at this stage? Probably not. Should users be vigilant and learn about social engineered exploits? Yes.
      wright_is
      • OS X was no better than Windows XP wrt security.

        Use a non-administrative account for your day to day activity in Windows XP and you'll be just as secure as version of OS X of the same era.
        ye
    • You're right - Kaspersky's looking for new customers

      [i]Hence the fear, uncertanity and doubt. They have Apple AV subscriptions to sell and it's in their best monetary interest to keep this alive.[/i]

      That is so [b]SO[/b] true. And yet you get voted down because too many idi0ts and Apple-haters around here would rather believe Russian sources than the truth.

      The last ones I would ever believe are the Russians since Russia is the world's capitol of malware.
      ScorpioBlack
      • You get voted down because you are silly!

        See the writing on the wall. You keep spouting foolishness and expect respect!
        Patanjali
      • Why don't you shaddup

        And go back to that outsourced 'help' desk back in punjab where you belong.
        ScorpioBlack
  • AV software would have done absolutely nothing to prevent

    this malware attack, and Kapersky's tool to clean infected machines had to be pulled because it was hosing OS X systems. Yeah, that inspires me with confidence. I should just go out right away and buy your AV product.
    baggins_z
    • Supporting reference please.

      [i]...Kapersky's tool to clean infected machines had to be pulled because it was hosing OS X systems.[/i]
      ye
      • You could have done this yourself in ten seconds

        http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9226174/Kaspersky_Lab_suspends_Flashback_removal_tool

        But you didn't want me to be right. Standing by to watch you start parsing what "hose" really means.
        baggins_z
    • Of course it would've

      Of course it would've. In theory it would've prevented the offending Java site from loading, which is who Kaspersky Internet Security works on PCs.
      bradavon
    • I think it was f-secure who trotted out that defective item

      Kind of like people in the UK trying to make good pizza.
      ego.sum.stig
  • Kaspersky: Mac market share means more malware

    But Apple's commercials said it couldn't get malware!
    Loverock Davidson-
    • Did they use the term "malware" or something else like

      virus? Malware is a generic term for all form of icky stuff while Virus is specific to one kind of ill.

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • you truely are

        blinded by bias.

        Whatever, virus, malware etc. the point is as many have stated in the past, the market leader will always be targeted.

        It's Apple's turn in the dunk tank
        TGGR
      • Do you care if you're being shot at by a rifle or a hand gun?

        Either one will injure or kill you. So does it really matter which was used?
        ye
      • Apple is far from the market leader....

        It has what at best a bit over 10% market sare in the USA and something like 3 or 4 maybe someday 5 percent world wide? Now the goal of hackers and malware creators is to either make a splash or make money in each case going for the market leader as you say is the way to do it and that would be in the case of desktops MS in the case of mobile phones android you get the picture. Granted once in a while an Apple attack will get some headlines so the one's that way to boost their egos might choose Apple but I think that last one that made headlines was a multi OS attack was it not?

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • Depends on the range.....

        ye
        A rifle at a couple hundred years would be a possible problem depending on the skill of the shooter. A hand gun on the other hand would be a joke. Besides I tend to shoot back:) As for killing I don't think even the latest attack did all that much to the victim certainly not in the same league as a kill would be. Since it only turned your computer into a bot right? You could still use your computer and I don't think it stole your personal information at least I had not read that right?

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • Don't have to be the market leader to make an attractive target

        Do X-Games participants make news because they jumped a 5-foot hill on a motorcycle, or slid their skateboard down the handrail of a 3-step staircase? Does a weightlifter gain the crowd's attention for bench-pressing 100 lbs/45 kg? Of course not; those aren't noteworthy "accomplishments". In a similar manner, which robbery results in more attention for a gang of criminals: the mom-and-pop bank whose vault is the equivalent of a Wal-Mart gun safe...or the high-tech, timer-locked, "impenetrable" vault with a 3 foot/1m thick tank armor-quality door & walls?

        By virtue of their rising market share and so-called claims of "invulnerability" to any attacks, Apple's OS X is now becoming a "high-value" target, where the notoriety of a successful attack is out of proportion to the likelihood of the average user being vulnerable to it.
        spdragoo