Report: Apple Turns to Top Critic for Help With Malware Woes
May 14, 2012 4:37 PM
Looks like "PC" isn't the only one to have malware woes.
Kaspersky recently published an analysis indicating that the Cupertino company was ten years behind Microsoft
Things haven't been pretty for Apple, Inc. (
) 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
(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
I. Kaspersky Recruited to Remedy Woeful OS X Security
Famed OS X hacker
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
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
In the aftermath of that assessment, Kaspersky's chief technology officer,
Nikolai Grebennikov has been
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. (
) 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.
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
Microsoft in terms of system security.
"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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