“I would like to discuss some important issues regarding Mac OS X and security. Let’s start with the hot-button issue of Mac OS X viruses. Simply put, at the time of writing this article, there are no file-infecting viruses that can infect Mac OS X. I see some of you raising a hand or two, wanting to ask me some ‘but, what about…’ types of questions. Indeed, in February of this year, when OSX.Leap.A was discovered the news headlines declared that it was the “First ever first ever virus for Mac OS X!” Long before the digital ink dried on those simplistic and sensational headlines our Security Response team had determined that OSX.Leap.A was a worm, and not a file-infecting virus. Our Security Response Web site explains the differences between viruses and worms. Basically, viruses are designed to infect files within a single computer, while worms are designed to spread from one computer to another,” Todd Woodward, Security Response Researcher, Symantec Corp., writes.
“Before you think that this is starting to look like an advocacy piece for Mac OS X, please remember that Mac OS X has been tested by worms, Trojan horses, rootkits, and other various security vulnerabilities. Most recently, in the wake of Apple releasing Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server 10.4.7 updates, Symantec released a high severity advisory through our DeepSight Threat Management System for all versions of Mac OS X 10.4.x prior to 10.4.7. Shortly thereafter, proof of concept code was released publicly which triggered a Category 1 threat advisory for OSX.Exploit.Launchd,” Woodward writes.
Woodward writes, “From the 30,000 foot viewpoint of the current security landscape, these Mac OS X security threats are almost completely lost in the shadows cast by the rocky security mountains of other platforms. However, no operating system is without imperfections, and no computer connected to the Internet will ever be 100% immune from attack. As Apple Computer points out: ‘A Mac running with factory settings will protect you from viruses much better than a PC, but it’s never a bad idea to run extra virus and security software.'”
Woodward, “As I tell my internal and external customers alike, just because there are no file-infecting viruses that can affect Mac OS X now, that doesn’t mean there won’t be a really nasty one released in the next five minutes. The likelihood of that happening is comparatively low and could be debated ad nauseam, but as Benjamin Franklin said: ‘A little neglect may breed great mischief: for want of a nail the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost; and for want of a horse the rider was lost.'”
Full article here.
[Todd Woodward is based in Springfield, Oregon, and plays a leading role at Symantec in facilitating the secure growth of the Macintosh platform in the SMB and Enterprise markets. He has 15 years experience in the telecommunications industry and was a pioneer in the field of Consumer Health Informatics. Prior to joining Symantec, Todd worked in Apple Computer’s professional support operations, and has been extensively heralding the innovative uses of Mac OS X in Internet data centers and Enterprises since Mac OS X Server 1.x was released in 1999.]
MacDailyNews Take: Excellent article. Following in Sophos’ “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” footsteps, eh, Symantec? If so, smart PR move; keep it up. Regardless of the reason(s), more of this level-headed and factually-based information from Symantec would definitely be welcomed.
Now if Symantec could just somehow get certain so-called “tech journalists” to also convey the facts, too, by giving carefully-constructed and considered quotes to the media, we’d really be cooking with gas. It’s probably just a dream, though, as writers with an agenda can always twist a quote to suit their needs. Still, we can hope.
Sophos: Apple Mac OS X’s security record unscathed; Windows Vista malware just a matter of time – July 07, 2006
Sophos Security: Dump Windows, Get a Mac – July 05, 2006
Security company Sophos: Apple Mac the best route for security for the masses – December 06, 2005
Symantec warns of new proof-of-concept ‘trojan horse’ for Mac OS X 10.4.6 – June 30, 2006
Apple: ‘Get a Mac. Say ‘Buh-Bye’ to viruses’ – June 01, 2006
Apple releases Mac OS X 10.4.7 Update – June 27, 2006
Apple Macs and viruses: Fact vs. FUD – May 26, 2006
Symantec Antivirus software flaw allows hackers to seize control of PCs without user interaction – May 25, 2006
‘Mac security’ garbage reports continue to proliferate – May 10, 2006
ZDNet: Reduce OS X security threats – ignore security software – May 05, 2006
McAfee announces virus protection for Intel-based Apple Macs – May 05, 2006
BusinessWeek: New Apple Mac ads stir up Mac security overreaction – May 04, 2006
Unix expert: Mac OS X much more secure than Windows; recent Mac OS X security stories are media hype – May 03, 2006
Macs and viruses: the true story – May 02, 2006
Anti-Mac FUD machine shifts into overdrive – May 01, 2006
FUD Alert: Viruses don’t catch up to the Mac – May 01, 2006
BusinessWeek: Apple should hire security czar to combat uninformed media FUD – March 09, 2006
Spate of recent Mac security stories signal that Microsoft, others getting nervous – March 06, 2006
Mafiasoft: Microsoft to charge $50 per year for security service to protect Windows – February 07, 2006
Why pay Symantec for flawed ‘security’ app designed to protect Apple Macs from nonexistent threats? – December 27, 2005
‘Highly critical’ flaw in discovered in Symantec AntiVirus for Mac OS X – December 21, 2005
Computer columnist: anti-virus software purely optional for Apple Macs, not so for Windows – November 01, 2005
Why Symantec’s ‘scare tactics’ don’t worry Mac users – September 28, 2005
Motley Fool writer: ‘I’d be surprised if Symantec ever sells a single product to a Mac user again’ – March 24, 2005
Symantec cries wolf with misplaced Mac OS X ‘security’ warning – March 23, 2005
Symantec’s Mac OS X claims dismissed as nonsense, FUD – March 22, 2005
Hackers already targeting viruses for Microsoft’s Windows Vista – August 04, 2005
16-percent of computer users are unaffected by viruses, malware because they use Apple Macs – June 15, 2005