Posted by: David Harley | February 4, 2013

Stephen Cobb on Mac malware

Stephen Cobb, my friend and colleague at ESET North America, comments at some length on whether Mac users need security software: Straight facts about Mac malware, threats and responses.

Since ESET’s product range includes Mac security products, it won’t surprise you that his answer is ‘yes’, but Stephen’s blogs are always worth reading, and in any case I happen to agree with him. But since [recursion alert!] ESET’s product range includes Mac security products, that won’t surprise you either. Actually, I’ve pretty much always said that commercial anti-malware product ranges intended for corporate use ought to include a Mac product because of (a) risk from malware that can be transmitted by Macs even though they can’t themselves run on Macs (except where emulation is in use) – I often refer to this as heterogeneous malware transmission (b) risk from multi-platform malware (macros, Java and so on). Nowadays, I’d say that the risk to Mac users is far higher than it used to be. While the volume of threats is tiny compared to that of threats that target Windows, the volume of infections has risen significantly in proportion to the number of Mac users, mainly as a result of the Flashback epidemic. (I mean statistically significant, not dramatic, exponential, or OMG the sky is falling!!!!)

One of the points Stephen makes is that

Frankly, I don’t think you have to spend much time looking at “Straight facts about Mac malware” before you realize the time is right to add some anti-malware software to your Mac.

‘Straight facts about Mac malware’ refers to an interactive website recently unveiled by ESET, also linked in Stephen’s blog to a PDF version.

If you notice a textual resemblance to some of the content of the Apple Malware Timeline published here at Mac Virus, I guess that’s not surprising either since I had quite a lot of input into the ESET content. However, the way it’s been packaged by ESET is a lot prettier. 😉

David Harley CITP FBCS CISSP
Small Blue-Green World/Mac Virus/Anti-Malware Testing
ESET Senior Research Fellow

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