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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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Oh please...
By snookie on 9/2/2009 12:41:21 AM , Rating: 0
So the companies who have been unsuccessfully trying to sell unneeded virus protection for Macs or who make their living from the security sieve that is Windows think Apple should do more? Astounding...they have been trotting out this line for years.
For those of you with the idiotic commentary; There are no mac viruses in the wild. There are two trojans which is what this is designed to prevent and more protection can be added if necessary. This is at the OS level not some application that interferes with functionality and eats up resources like say oh a Symantec product on Windows. One of the Trojans only comes from downloading an infected version of iWork from a torrent or other site. Compare this to the thousands of virii, trojans, and other malware for Windows. Unlike Microsoft Apple is taking responsibility for the security of their OS. If you have Apple envy then buy a Mac or be happy with what you.

If you know anything at all about why people write malware, and most of you don't. it is to get attention. Writing a successful pice of malware for the mac would certainly do that for you. But unlike the archaic Windows internal architecture (which includes Vista and Windows 7) you actually have to have some serious skill to do this. Whereas any script kiddie can write malware for Windows. Another reason this comparison is bogus, well OK downright because previous to OS X the Mac had plenty of viruses and it wasn't even the internet age yet.

Jesus what a bunch if whiners. Apple must really make you feel insecure. The very existence of OS X shows what a kludge Windows is. No wonder it drives you crazy.

RE: Oh please...
By deegee on 9/2/2009 1:02:37 AM , Rating: 3
Get excited about things much? ;-)

I think most people here (including snookie) are missing the BIG picture...

I have been using mainly DOS/Windows for 25 years now, and in all of that time I have [honestly] only caught at most two or three malwares (malwai?), and always from myself doing something I knew I shouldn't have (darn pr0n sites! ;-) ).

In my opinion, I'll take those extremely low odds of getting infected if it means that I can have a computer platform that costs half what a Mac does, with twice the power and expandability, can run 1000x more applications, and gives me more freedom of choice. Thank you.

RE: Oh please...
By Akrovah on 9/2/2009 11:10:25 AM , Rating: 2
I kneel at your altar!

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads

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