Symantec's OS X spyware prediction in flames

Symantec's OS X spyware prediction in flames

Summary: Symantec's Mac spyware prediction in flames


Symantec published its 10th Internet Threat Report this week and quietly admitted a few days later that its predictions of increasing Mac-targeted spyware threats have not been realised.

Unsurprisingly, Symantec didn't make any mention of its inaccurate prediction in the latest report, so I thought I would ask about the omission.

It seems Mac spyware was not mentioned this time around because there were no new dangerous Mac-related threats in the first six months of the year.

"Symantec didn't include the top 10 attackers or the top 10 malicious codes for this report. What they chose to do instead was to focus on the top 10 new attacks with malicious code and there were no threats that registered in the top 10 category that pertained to Mac OS X," according to a Symantec spokesperson.

"[Symantec] just focused on new attacks and Mac OS X wasn't [the target] of any of them," the spokesperson said.

Fanboy reaction
My previous blog entry seems to have stirred up some emotions at a certain Mac-focused Web site.

Unfortunately, the anonymous writer has misinterpreted my question to Symantec as disappointment that there was no mention of OS X malware.

Actually, I was pointing out that the company's predictions 18 months ago have been as accurate as Bill Gates' predictions about spam.

But the important point is this, regardless of how much people shove their head in the sand and scream "I must be safe because I have a Mac, I must be safe because I have a Mac", OS X does have security vulnerabilities. If it didn't, why would Apple release regular security patches? Luckily the system has been designed with security in mind, so vulnerabilities are very difficult to exploit and most require socially engineered user interaction.

Instead of publishing religious fanboy rants, maybe their time would be better spent reading about how Norton Anti-virus makes OS X less secure or why Bootcamp is an expensive downgrade for the Mac.

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

Munir Kotadia

About Munir Kotadia

Munir first became involved with online publishing in 1998 when he joined ZDNet UK and later moved into print publishing as Chief Reporter for IT Week, part of ZDNet UK, a weekly trade newspaper targeted at Enterprise IT managers. He later moved back into online publishing as Senior News Reporter for ZDNet UK.

Munir was recognised as Australia's Best Technology Columnist at the 5th Annual Sun Microsystems IT Journalism Awards 2007. In the previous year he was named Best News Journalist at the Consensus IT Writers Awards.

He no longer uses his Commodore 64.

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  • Time to calm down

    I agree that MacDailyNews take was too harsh (as well as my previous post attached to the original blog ;-)

    However the retort:

    "But the important point is this, regardless of how much people shove their head in the sand and scream 'I must be safe because I have a Mac, I must be safe because I have a Mac', ..."

    Is also unfair. I don't think most OS X users are that naive. They do after all religiously install the security updates that Apple provides.
  • Why bother

    Those of us who have switched from using Windows to Mac love to hear how jealous people get when the subject of security is brought up. Yes, there are a few Mac users who believe in security through obscurity. But most of use know that the Mac os is just a better os than Windows, for a number of reasons. It takes years of using products from Redmond before you realise just how alful their stuff really is. Maybe the people with their heads in the sand are those that think Vista will be any different than all the crap that has come before it.....
  • Follow-up

    MDN has a very reasonable (if not somewhat heated) response:
  • Security

    Many Mac users are well aware of the potential security threats that exist, however... given that most of the 26 viruses existing on the *previous* OS were very early in it's development (I cannot even remember a virus that functioned after System 7), there does exist a precedent for security in Apple's OS efforts which you seem quite adept at undercutting. Perhaps you do this out of a need to 'prepare' Apple owners for potential disaster... but in my choice for OS and network configuration, I am quite well prepared. Owning a Mac (or 3), in fact, keeps my PC safe as it prevents me from performing high-risk activities on a high-risk platform. There is a fine line between caution and sensationalism, if you turn around and look in the distance, you'll see it.
  • Good on you

    While I don't consider myself a fanboy, I've always enjoyed Macs and realized early on that they held similar flaws to windows machines. Macs seem inherently safer, but Apple still doles out Security Updates etc. etc.

    Refreshing to hear a similar opinion, and I'm so glad that Symantec has a bit of egg on their faces!

    Keep up the good writing.
  • Au contraire Mon Ami

    Oops! Too fast: