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Apple's new Snow Leopard OS apparently comes with free antivirus software.  (Source: Intego)
Apple is rumored to make its upcoming OS more secure

Not wanting to be made the target of new PC ads mocking its lack of antivirus support, Apple reportedly is packaging its new OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard", set to air on August 28, with free antivirus software.

Security research firm Intego, which maintains a Mac security blog that monitors various OS X-specific malware, first noticed and reported the development.  The firm was running the new version of OS X, when they noticed it detected and removed malware.  The process was carried out via a popup window, which they took a screenshot of, but they were either unable to determine or chose not announce who made the antivirus software.

Intego's post indicated that they were not making the product.  ClamAV -- currently the AV engine in Apple's server operating system -- also seems unlikely as the virus detected had the signature "OSX.RSPlug.A", a signature that ClamAV currently doesn't support (ClamAV does have a signature for "OSX.RSPlug" [1]).  Similar, McAfee and Sophos use the names OSX/Puper.a [2] and OSX/RSPlug-A [3], respectively.

That leaves Symantec [4] as one possibility.  Another is that Apple has developed its own proprietary antivirus software -- which would not be surprising.

Assuming that Intego's report is accurate (which seems likely as they're a serious name in the security software industry), it looks like Apple will finally be taking malware on its consumer products seriously.  It should be interesting to see how the program stacks up to the free offering that Microsoft is releasing later this year for Windows 7, Windows XP, and Windows Vista.

For many years Macs remained largely free of malware, while their PC brethren struggled.  This was due to many factors – including a small marketshare and the OS's generally sound design. Additionally, the web-based attacks of today were somewhat less frequent back then because browsers featured less rich content to exploit. 

However, like any OS, OS X was not without its holes -- on both the OS and the application level.  Recently, with more marketshare and Apple's increasing marketing bravado, interest has picked up in attacking the OS.  Recently, a worm attacking Macs emerged, but it appeared to be amateurish, unable to reproduce due to the server it communicates with being dead.  Nonetheless, it seems a matter of time before more serious attacks, implementing the proof-of-concept OS X attacks that security researchers have been demonstrating, come to light.  One such recent proof-of-concept attack demonstrated an an OS X keylogger though Apple has since patched the route it used.

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RE: This will be a story......
By omnicronx on 8/26/2009 1:25:01 PM , Rating: 2
Buddy, I could write a piece of malware right now that could give me complete control of your system(it would require user intervention, but so do 95%+ windows based malware and viruses). Macs are secure through obscurity, don't kid yourself thinking that it is some magical OS that cannot be affected by malware.

Now of course you are far more likely to get malware on a windows based machine, but at least Windows users know they are possibly at risk and can take the steps such as installing antivirus or antimalware apps to counteract this.

All of this being said, if someone clever were to write a sophisticated malware app for OSX, you would have users thinking they are invisible, and it could easily spread like wildfire.

RE: This will be a story......
By sapiens74 on 8/26/09, Rating: -1
RE: This will be a story......
By omnicronx on 8/26/2009 3:14:51 PM , Rating: 2
Hey I'm not not trying to say that Mac's are on the same playing field when it comes to malware. What I am saying is that you are leaving yourself open for attack when they one day become more prevalent, and believe me they will.

At some point people are going to realize that with buying an expensive product, comes deep pockets. While worms and viruses that look to setup giant botnets and such many never find there way to the Mac in the near future, viruses to get things such as credit card or user information most likely will.

All of that being said, looking into this anti-malware scheme, it seems that this system is very basic, as it only identifies two trojans, iServices and RSPlug. So Apple users are safe for now, but thinking this will continue is just plain naive, Apple marketshare continues to grow, and eventually there will be a tipping point where 'hackers' will start targeting Mac based machines.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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