Sophos: Apple Mac OS X’s security record unscathed; Windows Vista malware just a matter of time

“Apple computers still offer a safe refuge for users looking to evade the onslaught of online threats, security vendor Sophos advised in a Security Threat Management Report,” Tom Sanders reports for

“The first malware for Apple OS X surfaced earlier this year, but the operating system has stood its ground, Sophos claims,” Sanders reports. “OS X malware ‘has not spread in the wild and not heralded an avalanche of new malicious code for Apple’s operating system,’ the security report stated.”

“The security vendor was less optimistic about the forthcoming Windows Vista,” Sanders reports. “Malware writers will have to reassess their techniques because of changes in the operating system, but that will not stop them from targeting the software. ‘It may just be a matter of time before the bad guys learn enough about Vista to build rootkits or other malware with the equivalent degree of stealth capability,’ said Sophos.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Windows Vista malware may be a matter of time? Hackers already targeting viruses for Microsoft’s Windows Vista – August 04, 2005

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Related MacDailyNews articles:
McAfee expects 400,000 viruses by 2008 – July 06, 2006
Sophos Security: Dump Windows, Get a Mac – July 05, 2006
16-percent of computer users are unaffected by viruses, malware because they use Apple Macs – June 15, 2005
Apple: ‘Get a Mac. Say ‘Buh-Bye’ to viruses’ – June 01, 2006
Apple Macs and viruses: Fact vs. FUD – May 26, 2006
Mossberg: Is there a virus threat for Apple Macs? – May 11, 2006
ZDNet: How many Mac OS X users affected by the last 100 viruses? None, zero, not one, not ever – August 18, 2005
Hackers already targeting viruses for Microsoft’s Windows Vista – August 04, 2005
Intel CEO Otellini: If you want security now, buy a Macintosh instead of a Wintel PC – May 25, 2005
Defending Windows over Mac a sign of mental illness – December 20, 2003


  1. What if the bad guys crack Vista? Would this help people to convert to Mac if they realized that M$ cannot build a secure and efficient operating system?

    I don’t know if it will or not. I think so many people are blind sheep when it comes to computers.

  2. I thought there was already malware for Vista. Maybe it doesn’t count because Vista is still in Beta?

    Are there more Vista Beta-testers than OS X users? If not, so much for the “security through obscurity” argument.

  3. Good point, Metryq! (That is, if you’re talking about the jerk from yesterday’s posts who wouldn’t get off the “OS X has virus/trojans TOO” bandwagon.)

    WHERE ARE YOU, WEBSTER? Hiding under your semantical rock still?

    Of course, in your pathetic little mind SOPHOS would know much less about the actual application of malware within operating systems than your “student edition” Webster’s dictionary, right?

    Man (or woman), you need help.

  4. $400.00 for a computer is all most people need to justify the windows malware mess. cheap cheap cheap.

    “Hey, sure I’ve got all sorts of malware – BUT I ONLY PAID $400.00 BUCKS” – for the cheap piece of junk.

    That is the market taking care of itself.

    Good luck Vista suckers.

  5. The Mac is more secure than Windows. Fact. But my neighbor’s Mac mini got hacked. Its my fault really. I purchased the Mac mini in 2005 and after playing with it for about a week, I sold it to my neighbor. I turned the firewall on and enabled the remote connectivity through SSH. If figured that if she needed any help, I could log in from my Mac. Well about 3 weeks ago, she told me that she couldn’t login. It wouldn’t accept her password. So I used the OS X disk and reset her password. Then this past weekend, she called me again to say she couldn’t login. So this time I brought her mini to my house and reset the password again, but noticed a couple perl files in her home folder. As well as a few tgz files. I don’t recall the names of them now, but they were definitely hacker related. I checked her bash history file and sure enough, somebody had logged in and downloaded these files using the curl command. They set up a shoutcast server on her mini. Her only mistake was making her password the same as her user name. She’s running 10.3.9. Apparently, the version of SSH on 10.3.9 has an exploit and Apple isn’t too interested in fixing older versions of their OS. So I have since reinstalled OS X 10.3.9 and turned off remote connectivity.

  6. Jeff,
    I’m not sure if I believe you or not. If what you are saying is true, it likely means the “hacker” is someone she knows, has been in her house.

    This is not a malware attack so much as a hacker attack. Any computer left available to a hacker for long enough can be broken into. Apple makes this harder to hack in – by default – but you helped the hacker by opening the SSH port. Still, he shouldn’t have been able to log on unless you left a “guest account” out there. And you have to be particularly clueless – or just plain stupid – to use your account name as your password.

    It’s up to you to help her.
    Set the system up so there’s no admin access from her account or from the account that identifies the computer … if her system is identified as “Jeff’s Computer”, “Jeff’s” account should not have admin privs. Then you need to get her to create a solid passphrase – try Im-the-CUTest – for her account and a better one for the account with admin privs.

  7. In related Vista news – I listened to a poscast yesterday and a Windows developer was again complaining about Vista. Seems as though the Aero glass interface and the 3-D desktop features use HUGE AMOUNTS OF HORSEPOWER. The result? He got 45min of battery life from his notebook while demoing some of his software under Vista. If battery life gets to a certain level, Vista will automatically start turning off the eye-candy to compensate. Here was in the middle of showing some of his products, and the desktop started losing “features” (eye candy). Screwed his whole presentation. If he would of had his notebook plugged in it would have been no problem, but who’s going to want to run Vista on a notebook if you can only get 45min of battery life out of it? He also said that MS really screwed a lot of developers when they dropped the Win FS – people had products in the pipeline for this. Episode 48 (first 30 min is interesting):

  8. What’s funny is that alot of you don’t know Vista is actually much more secure than OSX.

    Security is an aspect that we’re not sure where to put either operating system, as we know the current beta implementation of Vista’s UAC will be different from the final version. As currently implemented, UAC surpasses Tiger’s security features by giving more information about what application is requesting privilege escalation and can give the user a chance to prevent malware from getting away with system changes, but at the same time most enthusiasts and likely even many normal users will find it’s too overprotective and overbearing. There’s a point that exists for UAC where it’s neither underpowered nor overbearing, and if Microsoft can reach that then they’ll clearly have a tighter core security system than Tiger. Even if Microsoft can’t get their UAC implementation correct, though, Apple would be wise to learn from it for better ways to communicate with the user. While we’re on the topic of security, the new Vista firewall should not go unmentioned; it’s time for a full featured firewall for Windows and Mac OS X alike, and only the former has it. Apple likes to talk about how they don’t succumb to virus attacks, but avoiding problems in the lack of a threat is not the same as being fully secure.

  9. I’ve distilled the Steve Jobs philosophy of marketing to about seven words: “Not everyone deserves to own a personal computer.” So long as this even appears to be so, Microsoft and open-architecture will have the upper hand, selling cheap and shoddy to the sheep who, likely as not, don’t give ANY thought whatsoever to the possibility that there is something better. I have to be honest, the Apple pricing scheme for hardware (and since the dawn of the Big Cats, operating-system software), would be enough to send even me into Win-world were I not a dedicated Mac realist from sometime around the beginning of the first Bill Clinton term. What the folks at One Infinite Loop have joined together, He of the Infinite Ego destines to put asunder, taking it down to cliche’d brass tacks.

    SJ Wright
    Vista — ironic name for a company that relies on the obvious to find something to call innovation (lack of vision leads to tunnel vision leads to total blindness).

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