Print 62 comment(s) - last by Silent-Ninja.. on May 17 at 6:04 PM

Looks like "PC" isn't the only one to have malware woes.  (Source: Apple)
Kaspersky recently published an analysis indicating that the Cupertino company was ten years behind Microsoft

Things haven't been pretty for Apple, Inc. (AAPL) of late as its seen a number of high-profile security embarassments surrounding its Mac personal computers.  Most recently OS X 10.7.2 Lion was caught dumping passwords in plaintext, thanks to some sloppy programming by an Apple engineer.  Before that, Apple suffered a Trojan infection of Conficker proportions (between 1 and 2 percent of Macs -- or roughly 600,000 machines were estimated to be infected) and was caught telling its technicians to lie about another wide-spread piece of malware, a fake antivirus program dubbed "MacDefender".

I. Kaspersky Recruited to Remedy Woeful OS X Security

Famed OS X hacker Charlie Miller once told a security blog, "Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town."

Today the developer -- who Apple recently gave the boot from its developer program for revealing it flawed security -- has a softer perspective on the topic, stating to Kaspersky's threat post blog, "
It's always been the easiest to exploit and now it's to the point that it's not that easy anymore.  OS X has always been way behind on security, but now it's more or less comparable [to Windows]. Once you have ASLR and DEP and some sandboxing, that's all anyone has."

Still that wasn't enough to keep Kaspersky from delivering a scathing perspective on Apple's security, which it estimates to be a full decade behind Microsoft Corp. (MSFT).

In the aftermath of that assessment, Kaspersky's chief technology officer,
Nikolai Grebennikov has been quoted in a interview as saying that Apple has approached it desparate for security support.  The top security firm reportedly agreed and is in the midst of a likely lucrative assessment of the OS X code-base.

Kaspersky's criticism and Mr. Miller's praise may at first seem oddly divergent commentaries.  But in reality much of Apple's recent security flaws have come down to its insistence on redistributing third-party updates, coupled with a handful of careless programming errors.  Apple does not allow third-parties like Oracle Corp. (ORCL) the ability to directly patch their Mac OS platforms, such as Java.  While Apple views this as a security "feature" it has become more of a nightmare of late, as Macs are being exploited via gaping Java or Flash holes that were long ago patched in Windows.

Not surprisingly, Mr. Grebennikov indicates that much of Kaspersky's early advice to Apple revolves around letting third parties update their own platforms -- or at least assume a more responsible pace of mandatory updates.  Comments the security chief:

Mac OS is really vulnerable and Apple recently invited us to improve its security. We've begun an analysis of its vulnerabilities, and the malware targeting it.

Our first investigations show Apple doesn't pay enough attention to security. For example, Oracle closed a vulnerability in Java, which was a target for a major botnet several months ago.

Apple blocked Oracle from updating Java on Mac OS, and they perform all the updates themselves. They only released the patch a few weeks ago – two or three months after the Oracle patch. That's far too long.

II. iOS Malware Expected to Soon Become Serious

Kaspersky  indicates that Apple was fortunate to seek help when it did.  Mr. Grebennikov estimates that malware will soon be targeting Apple's coveted iOS platform, which shares much in the way of security -- or lack thereof -- with OS X.  He comments, "Our experience tells us that in the near future, perhaps in a year or so, we will see the first malware targeting iOS."

Thus far a couple of harmless Trojans and worms have struck iOS, but have almost exclusively attacked users of jailbroken iPhones or iPads.  Apple does not care about these infections as it does not consider jailbroken device users to be part of its user base.  Jailbreaking, or removing Apple's control over what apps can be run, voids users' warranties.

iPhone 4 fan
Kaspersky expects malicious hackers to target Apple's iOS mobile platform.
[Image Source: Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images]

Apple has long maintained an arrogant air from a marketing perspective, claiming its machines were impervious to malware or hacking, while portraying machines running Microsoft Windows operating system as "buggy" and "virus prone".  The company is surely eager to prevent the public from wising up to the reality that it may actually be well behind Microsoft in terms of system security.


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RE: That's Convenient
By Trisped on 5/14/2012 7:30:47 PM , Rating: 1
That's impossible, mass infection can't happen there because Apple controls absolutely all the software installed on non-jailbroken iOS devices.
This is of course, unproven. It seems to me that Kaspersky believes this is untrue.

The important thing to remember is that all major software will have vulnerabilities. It is a fact of software development that 100% of all use cases cannot be predicted and coded for. While programming practices, programming languages, OSes, and hardware which are security conscious help, you will never remove 100% of the vulnerabilities from a system unless you remove 100% of the system's ability to interact with the world.

Please do not put too much stock into Apple's control over software in their App store. While there model limits freelance viruses, it is all too easy to software into the store which does not do what Apple thinks ( The advantage is that once Apple has identified the software as malicious they can ban it and remove it from affected devices, if the software has not already jail broken and rooted the devices, and sent all your personal information out into the web.

RE: That's Convenient
By Pirks on 5/14/12, Rating: -1
RE: That's Convenient
By Trisped on 5/14/2012 9:09:20 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, Java, Flash, and other development platforms have provided security holes in the past, but it is important to note that so has to OS. For example the most recent issues with OSX were both on Apples side, taking to long to patch known issues ( and poor programming/deployment practices which resulted in saving passwords as plain text (

I am not a regular Mac user, but I expect that they come out with security updates just like Microsoft. On Windows 7 these are usually to fix small coding errors which could allow a hacker to execute malicious code without going through the normal process. These programming flaws exist in every large program, iOS is no exception.

So yes, up to now the only people finding ways to execute code not approved by Apple are jail breakers (who exploit flaws in the software or OS to gain root access to your iOS device). Kaspersky seems to be of the opinion that it is only a matter of time before hackers start using the same or similar exploits to gain control of your iOS device.

I tend to agree with Kaspersky. It is only a matter of time before Trojan free/paid apps ( which root 1 in 5 devices they are installed on are seen in the wild. It is only a matter of time before web ads start exploiting flaws in the iOS web browser API.

The real mark of a "secure" OS is how the company defends against attacks (iOS and WP7 limiting software installs), how many resources the company puts into finding exploits (for example, Microsoft participates in hacker conventions where they pay $$ for exploits, sometimes even hiring the company/person who finds the most exploits), and how quickly patches for exploits are released.

Yes, Android is like an unlocked house in the middle of the city, you can install any software (without risking even $1) and the source is open so you can easily find week points.

iOS is like a locked house in the middle of the city, but they have no security inside (no anti-virus or advanced security options that I know of). It costs money to get a key to the door ($99 to publish apps), but the odds are that the windows do not have bars.

WP7 is still out in the country side (what 1.4% market share now?). They have locks on the doors ($99 to publish apps, app review like Apple) and from what I have seen bars on the windows (use of choosers and tested modern development platforms like .NET and Silverlight). When/If they move into the city they will be at risk for viruses.

The more important thing to me (between Apple and Microsoft) is how they handle white hat hackers. If Apple does not make friends with the white hats, they are at risk of becoming the next Sony. shows similarities to Sony's tact, and we all know where that took Sony.

RE: That's Convenient
By sprockkets on 5/14/12, Rating: 0
RE: That's Convenient
By CZroe on 5/14/2012 11:49:01 PM , Rating: 2
You're living in La La Land. Multiple times in the hackers jailbreak and Apple updates cat-and-mouse game that they play, the jailbreaking has been done through a browser-based software exploit WITHOUT a PC to phones that were not previously jailbroken. There have also been proven malicious text message exploits for non-jailbroken phones. The website's methods did not require user permission to install, though the website graciously asked the user out of the goodness of their hearts. IOW, there was no OS approval gate to allowing or disallowing it on non-jailbroken phones and a malicious website could simply pwn your phone using the same exploit when simply visiting. This was such a threat that the first thing users did after jailbreaking was install a patch that fixed the same hole the jailbreak used to get installed. What did Apple do? They made it worse when they made their iOS devices automatically connect to any WiFi access point with "attwifi" as the SSID so that all anyone had to do to pwn passers-by with an iOS device was set up a rogue access point that redirects any web page request and wait for them to open their web browsers. Open your browser when walking through the mall, receive a malicious payload on your phone that's automatically executed.

It's this simple: Every one of the PC-less jailbreaks involves running unauthorized code on a non jailbroken device through an exploit which could just as easily have been a virus. These actually exist. They are not "theoretical." Apple has made it even easier with egregious mistakes like the attwifi SSID gaffe. Open your eyes.

RE: That's Convenient
By Pirks on 5/15/2012 12:33:07 PM , Rating: 1
If iOS is so hole ridden and easy to crack, and has hundreds of millions of users - where are my botnets and mass malware infections man? WHERE ARE THEY? Show me ONE case of mass infection of iOS devices similar to that 600,000 Macs infected with a botnet or 15,000,000 PCs infected with Confiker. You can't show any case like that? Well, you gotta shut up then. Come back when you have REAL WORLD CASES OF MASS INFECTIONS OF iOS DEVICES. Thank you.

RE: That's Convenient
By Trisped on 5/15/2012 1:56:41 PM , Rating: 2
I believe that the point of the article is that they are coming, and that iOS needs to be ready.

Since the platform is not open with published source code, hackers must work harder to find exploits then a similar quality platform which allows any app to run and/or has published the source code.

Add to that the $99 fee to start developing for an iOS device (which has not been jail broken) and there are a number of reasons why it is taking hackers longer to target these devices. Don't worry though, I am sure we will see real world cases of mass infections of iOS in the next 12-24 months. That is if you are not count the hacks already used by millions to jail brake their devices.

RE: That's Convenient
By Pirks on 5/15/2012 3:42:42 PM , Rating: 2
I am sure we will see real world cases of mass infections of iOS in the next 12-24 months
Like I said above - I'll believe it when I see it. "Antivirus" feces vendors have their own agenda and no smart user will ever trust them. "Kapersky" [(C) Micktroll] is fear mongering 'cause he wants $$$. End of story.

RE: That's Convenient
By Trisped on 5/15/2012 6:58:19 PM , Rating: 2
... no smart user will ever trust them.

You have your bias Pirks. While I would not blindly believe any company, Kaspersky's statments are backed by real world evidence. If iOS is so secure, then how can just visiting a webpage like jail break the device.

So no, there has not been a mass infection in the traditional sense, but there are PLENTY of documented exploits which can easily be ported to more nefarious ends. The writing is on the wall, weather or not you choose to heed it is up to you.

RE: That's Convenient
By Pirks on 5/15/2012 10:08:53 PM , Rating: 2
I don't heed warnings from sleazy "businessmen" selling feces in a flashy packaging. I only heed real life facts. So, when I see the real life mass infections on iOS - THEN I'll bother. For now, if you excuse me, I'll treat "Kapersky"'s "gimme money!" warnings for what they're worth.

RE: That's Convenient
By Trisped on 5/16/2012 1:37:07 PM , Rating: 2
I only heed real life facts.
Your religion is showing.

RE: That's Convenient
By Pirks on 5/16/2012 1:40:44 PM , Rating: 2
Your avoidance of facts (absence of mass infections on iOS despite humongous number of users) is telling.

RE: That's Convenient
By Trisped on 5/16/2012 7:07:54 PM , Rating: 2
Your avoidance of facts (absence of mass infections on iOS despite humongous number of users) is telling.
Where did I imply I was avoiding the fact that iOS has not had a "mass infection"? Just because something has not happened does not make it impossible, only lowers the probability. The real truth is that you are avoiding the facts, that iOS is the victim of multiple mass infections. Just because most of those infections were the result of knowing and willful user action does not change the fact.

The fact is that security bugs which can be exploited to grant root access have been discovered on the device.
There have been several different instances of exploitable bugs reported for this device.
It has taken Apple anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to patch these exploits once they have been reported.

So yes, it is only a matter of time before there is a mass iOS infection with malicious intent.
If you don't like the fact , then that is your problem.

RE: That's Convenient
By CZroe on 5/16/2012 12:09:38 PM , Rating: 2
One reason: They didn't need to. There has been case after case of misbehaving App Store apps that steal user data without requiring an execution vulnerability. Some even used undocumented APIs, permission vulnerabilities, and other loop-holes and escaped Apple's "stringent" approval process. This isn't an Android-only problem, like they've made it out to be while sweeping their own problems under the rug.

RE: That's Convenient
By Pirks on 5/16/2012 12:38:08 PM , Rating: 2
For the malware that makes it to App Store and then proceeds doing whatever it wants in the sandbox - the "Kapersky" antivirus feces gonna be 100% useless. So my point still stands - "Kapersky" pitches useless feces for now, only lamers with low IQ would buy one.

"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive

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