McAfee Expects Increased Apple Attacks in 2011

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Security firm McAfee expects increased attacks on Apple devices in 2011, spurred in part on Apple’s growing success with iPhones and iPad in the business market. In the company’s 2011 Threats Predictions (published by the L.A. Times), McAfee said that it also expects social networking services to be increasingly leveraged by the bad guys to lure us to malicious Web sites and to track our whereabouts.

“Although historically not a frequently targeted platform by malicious attackers,” the report said, “the Mac operating system is very widely deployed. McAfee Labs saw malware of increasing sophistication that targets Mac this year; we expect this trend to increase in 2011.”

Part of the problem, as McAfee sees it, is the lack of concern about malware and other security threats to Apple’s products, which, “historically [have not been] a frequently targeted platform by malicious attackers.”

Accordingly, “The lack of user understanding regarding exposure on these platforms and the lack of deployed security solutions make a fertile landscape for cybercriminals.”

The firm said that it expects to see an increase of Mac botnets — networks of computers that have been compromised by the bad guys — to increase, and that Trojan Horse attacks will increase, as well. Trojan Horses are malicious applications that are disguised to look like something else, or included unbeknownst to users with another software installer.

Mobile

In the mobile space, McAfee readily acknowledged that security threats have been slow to materialize, despite long-standing concern in the security field about the issue. “We expect attacks to erupt at any time, yet they never quite seem to happen,” the company wrote.

Citing more rootkits for Android and remote jailbreaking tools for iPhone in 2010, McAfee said that 2011 is likely to be the year when the mobile space hits a tipping point and does become the subject of security attacks.

“The widespread adoption of mobile devices into business environments combined with these and other attacks is likely to bring about the explosion we’ve long anticipated,” the company wrote. “Given our historically fragile cellular infrastructure and slow strides toward encryption, user and corporate data may face serious risks.”

On a similar note, McAfee said that, “the popularity of iPads and iPhones in business environments and the easy portability of malicious code between them could put many users and businesses at risk next year and beyond. We anticipate threats of data and identity exposure will become more pronounced.”

Social Networking

And if all this isn’t enough to scare you into securing your Mac, PC, Android, iOS, or other device, McAfee believes that services such as Foursquare and Facebook Places that announce where you all to the world are going to be increasingly used by cybercriminals to get you good.

“There’s no trick to imagining how cybercriminals and scammers can potentially leverage this information,” the company wrote. “In just a few clicks cybercriminals can see in real time who is tweeting and where, what they are saying, what their interests are, and the operating systems and applications they are using. It then becomes child’s play to craft a targeted attack based upon what the bad guys have just learned from these services.”

Lastly, the firm warned that URL shortening services are going to be increasingly leveraged by cybercriminals. There are currently some 3,000 URLs that are shortened every minute, and that this “is a huge opportunity for abuse.”

The report added, “We see a growing number of these used for spam, scamming, and other malicious purposes. This nominal convenience will have a tremendous impact on the success of cybercriminals and scammers as they leverage the immediacy of social media over e-mail for even greater success.”

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Comments

msidoric

Be afraid—very afraid—that’s how McAfee makes money.

Most ‘attacks’ are merely exploits of known issues with Flash, Java, Acrobat, and social engineering on poorly maintained computers.

ClamXAV is a free, daily-updated solution for Mac users ? and unlike many paid subscription solutions ? it really works. It is the default AV
in Snow Leopard Server.

Fear sells, but hopefully ? reason rules.

Jack Sheffrin

It was only a matter of time for Macs to be targeted ... one problem switching their cpu/chipsets to intel is the ease of portability of known exploits. Big deal, so now we have to protect our computers just like everyone else ... You mean you haven’t already! ... wake up and smell the century.

BurmaYank

“And if all this isn?t enough to scare you into securing your Mac, PC, Android, iOS, or other device, McAfee believes that…”

I think if we had been keeping track of all the the McAfee & Symantec repronouncements of this tiresome self-serving prophesy of doom over the decades (the way TMO did with its “Apple Death Knell” series), it would be easier to discern the utter hogwash in all these periodic phony McAfee/Symantec ads-masquerading-as-public-service-warnings (like this “2011 Threats Predictions”).

David Colley

Apple is a closed rose garden remember. Everyone is locked out including McAfee, which couldn’t create a secured system even if they were smart enough to know what that meant.

I like that about Apple products. (Stay off my lawn) McAfee should stick with windoze, they make a good team.

For McAfee protecting a computer is like finding a cure for cancer, not a good business model.

zenrascal

I agree that we MacHeads needn’t panic.  Just prudent caution.

msidoric, thanks for the ClamXAV notice.  I didn’t know about that one.  grin

Ken Cavanaugh

I’m glad that this report comes from such an unbiased source with nothing to gain.

countsporkula

Every 3 or 4 months I see someone roll out the prophecy of virusy doom for Apple products and…  After being a Mac user for 8 years now, I’ve yet to see this happen.  I mean, I’m sure the Mayans predicted the Death of Apple for 2012 or something but really.  It gets old.  Especially since the message is always from people who stand to profit off fear.

But nevermind that.  CUE THE WINDOWS USERS who will now SWEAR that Macs and Linux are as poorly constructed as Windows (ignoring the fact of course that far more servers run on unix variants than Windows)

zzzzZZZZzzzzZZZZ Wake me up when/if the pattern ever actually changes.

Nate

screw macafee—fear, fear, fear, to sell software. geez, the dollar trumps all—wish they’d figure out something else to do, must be a bunch of conserv wingnuts.

Tony

McAfee is awful. Norton is much better.

RedPill

In other words: BUY MORE OF OUR STUFF

computerbandgeek

In other news: Google expects increased google searches in 2011 and Exxon Mobil expects increased petrol consumption. Oh and the company that makes barbie dolls expects an unprecedented number of their dolls’ heads to be ripped off…

Dave

That means, now they are busy writing viruses for Mac.

sflocal

What McAfee expects is to generate as much fear-propoganda in the community and trick… er… “make a case” to the consumer and enterprise segments that they need to purchase McAfee products to keep their false sense of protection.

McAfee is on borrowed time.  With Microsoft Security Essentials making McAfee irrelevant on the Windows desktop space, McAfee is just trying to pick up whatever breadcrumbs are left and bank on the ignorance of users.

gnasher729

It was only a matter of time for Macs to be targeted ... one problem switching their cpu/chipsets to intel is the ease of portability of known exploits. Big deal, so now we have to protect our computers just like everyone else ... You mean you haven?t already! ... wake up and smell the century.

A very strange post this is. “It was only a matter of time”???? No, it hasn’t happened yet. What happened is that a company with vested interest is trying to produce fear in Apple’s customers - so that they buy McAfee products. And exploits are not portable, that is nonsense. “Now we have to protect our computers just like everyone else”???? No, we don’t have to protect our Macs just because McAfee makes dire predictions to make us afraid and buy their software. We will have to protect our Macs when there are actual viruses out there, not when anti-virus companies like McAfee tell us.

geoduck

McAfee is awful. Norton is much better.

I hope you meant that as sarcasm. Norton’s is a nightmare. When I have to deal with a system that is having weird problems and/or slowdowns, one of the first things I do is check for Norton’s. Stripping it out often solves the issue.

I have SophosAV for Mac installed on my system. We use it extensivly on Win systems. It’s been very solid for us. A couple of months ago they released a Mac version that’s free.

Here is the link to Sophos for Mac if anyone wants it

Andre

“Mac’s don’t get viruses, I want one.” I hear this by so many computer illiterates/friends that have been brainwashed marketed by Apples manipulative advertising campaigns.  Sure they do a lot of things better than a PC, but not everything.  They will get viruses, unfortunately this is they way of the world.  While I don’t wish to see malicious exploits on anyone, I will secretly grin when the cult of Apple get’s theirs…

geoduck

?Mac?s don?t get viruses, I want one.?

A virus?

ellis

they way of the world

get’s Ebonics, much, Andre?

I am secretly grinning…

Lee Dronick

I have SophosAV for Mac installed on my system. We use it extensivly on Win systems. It?s been very solid for us. A couple of months ago they released a Mac version that?s free.

Thanks for the link to their Mac software. I installed it on my iMac and will soon do so on the MacBooks.

wab95

When I have to deal with a system that is having weird problems and/or slowdowns, one of the first things I do is check for Norton?s. Stripping it out often solves the issue.

I have SophosAV for Mac installed on my system. We use it extensivly on Win systems. It?s been very solid for us

Many thanks for that link, geoduck. Concur with your assessment of Norton AV. When it was simply ‘Norton’, it was not bad, but post-Symantec it became a nightmare, not to mention a poor cousin to its Windows counterpart.

I have been using Intego’s VirusBarrier, who also make a product for (Bitdefender) for Windows. I stopped using the latter primarily because Parallels, which I run for Windows, comes with its own protective software.

Given your and Tiger’s experience, I would be interested in whether you thought that sufficient for running Parallels.

I should add, one reason for using AV software in the workplace is to avoid transmitting viruses to one’s colleagues. Especially when I work from a low-income country, I am amazed at how often my system detects and eliminates viruses (primarily email attachments).

BurmaYank

Mac?s (sic) ... will get viruses, unfortunately this is they way of the world.? While I don?t wish to see malicious exploits on anyone, I will secretly grin when the cult of Apple get?s theirs?”

I hope very much, that you won’t be holding your breath waiting for the chance to grin about Macs getting viruses.  Just FYI, Andre, you’ll never see an actual internet-disseminated virus happen on a Mac - that could not possibly happen. Other types of malware than viruses on a Mac (especially if that Mac is connected into some kind of local intranet system)? Maybe, if the user is stupid enough to actively set him/herself up for some kind of a Trojan or worm or rootkit infection, but that infection cannot spread to other Macs via the internet the way viruses do on (previous OS versions especially of) Windozes.  That mode of virus transmission is inherently impossible on Mac OSXes, no matter how clever a would-be Mac-virus-developer might be, and regardless how big Mac OSX’s installed userbase might be (i.e., -not even if Mac OSX’s installed userbase was 95% of the world).

serogers1970

McAfee is awful. Norton is much better.

Norton is the biggest virus out there! I haven’t had problems on Mac since OS7 or 8, but have had all kinds of issues with Norton installed.

cb50dc

Apart from commercial protection, many (most?) real or perceived threats come from sloppy user habits:
? No passwords; simple, obvious passwords; passwords written nearby on post-its
? Opening emails and especially attachments from unknown sources
? Clicking on any “too good to be true” offers

These and similar first-person issues will become even more important as cybercreeps do step up assaults, whether minimally or massively, on the growing Apple market.

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