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Is Apple's Snow Leopard as attack proof as the company believes? Probably not, but it does add some significant protections. Security companies, though, are coming out with criticism against Apple's efforts, in what seems a mix of sour grapes and legitimate points.  (Source: Simple Thoughts -- Computer Security Blog)
Are security firms' Snow Leopard gripes legitimate or just sour grapes? The answer may be be that they are a bit of both..

Just as attacks against Macs were beginning in earnest, and security software makers were ready to step into this new market and begin selling customers security suites, Apple dropped a bomb on the security software vendors -- OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" comes with built-in malware detection for a few Mac-specific viruses.

Apple, which has long lambasted Windows PCs as dangerously insecure in its advertisements, brags that its new OS offers unmatched protection against malware and cyber-attacks.  It points to hardware-based execution control for heap memory, stronger checksums for preventing memory corruption attacks, and built in antivirus protection -- dubbed XProtect -- as strong improvements in its OS design.

Now security companies are responding to Apple's boasts via blogs and emails that range from skeptical to scathing. 

Symantec was among the most critical, stating, "It is not a full-featured antivirus solution and does not have the ability to remove malware from the system.  File Quarantine is also signature-based only. Malware signatures are only as good as the definitions, requiring Apple to provide regular, timely updates."

The company points out that OS X's Software Update is not fully automatic and that it does not inform users what signatures have been downloaded, to indicate the current level of protection.  They also criticize that Apple's firewall is turned off by default and lacks the configurability of most third-party solutions.  Also they point out that the OS provides little to no protection against unauthorized access of sensitive information on disc or for information being transmitted over networks.  Finally, they say that Apple's reliance on site lists for its anti-phishing efforts make its blocking close to useless as the attacking sites typically change on a daily basis.

Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Network Security, also criticized the new software. "It feels like they are just trying to put a tic mark in the anti-malware compliance box for the enterprise customers they are still trying to woo.  So far, it looks like a pretty 'featureless feature.' Compared to other third party options, the functionality is pretty low. It's a lot like getting a warranty on your car that only covers floor mats, " he remarks.

Sophos researcher Paul O Baccas takes a more measured approach, stating that Apple's XProtect may be somewhat useful for certain programs -- Entourage, Safari, Mail, Firefox, Thunderbird -- which call LSQuarantine, an XProtect utility that detects malware.  However, for Skype, Adium, BitTorrent and Apple's Finder -- USB drives, shared network volumes, etc. -- there is no protection, he conversely points out.  He elaborates, "They haven't really integrated an antivirus program.  They've added something which can block some malware under some conditions."

He does say that the changes are better than nothing, however.  Apple meanwhile, refused to directly respond or comment on the criticism from security software vendors.

Security vendors will be facing a double-whammy when Microsoft officially releases its more full-featured security solution for Windows XP, Vista, and the new Windows 7.  Microsoft is set to drop this free security suite, dubbed Microsoft Security Essentials, before the end of the year.

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RE: Did Apple Actually Market XProtect?
By jragosta on 9/1/2009 10:10:47 AM , Rating: -1
"You would not believe how many CEO's, CIO's, CPO's and CLO's all believe MAC is a more secure OS. Little do they know...."

Let's see. There are hundreds of thousands of WIndows viruses in the wild and zero OS X viruses. Seems to me that OS X is more secure.

No one ever said it was impossible for OS X to be hacked. But, as of today, the chances are infinitely greater that a windows user will receive a virus than a Mac user. So what kind of bizarre, deluded logic leads you to conclude that all those CEOs, CIOs, CPOs, and so on are wrong?

By SavagePotato on 9/1/2009 10:42:27 AM , Rating: 5
If aids is rampant in Africa it doesn't mean you are immune to aids because you live in Tasmania and haven't got it yet.

Point of fact it is an extremely insecure platform that has not been targeted by serious threats yet. This has been proven and confirmed by security experts time and again.(see pwn to own competition)

If apples market share shot up to 70% overnight and Mac's outnumbered Windows machines they would be attacked into the stone age and left in a smoking pile of ruin within a couple weeks.

RE: Did Apple Actually Market XProtect?
By StevoLincolnite on 9/1/2009 11:44:33 AM , Rating: 5
You make it sound as if using Windows you will get a Virus every 5 seconds of casual web surfing, which is false.

With the correct software, and the correct browsing precautions you are pretty safe.

The biggest way to not get a virus is to only visit Trusted websites, not websites which have Cracks for your shiny new PC game, or Pr0n websites to get a fix, and most of all don't open an email attachment which says: Earn1milliondollars.exe.txt

The biggest chances of getting a virus is through the stupidity of the person using the computer.

RE: Did Apple Actually Market XProtect?
By snbdr on 9/1/09, Rating: -1
RE: Did Apple Actually Market XProtect?
By peritusONE on 9/1/2009 12:34:48 PM , Rating: 5
You do realize that the majority of web based attacks come from "trusted" web sites that have been compromised, right?

You can't post a statement as fact and not back it up with some data. Come on now...

"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings

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