Eugene Kaspersky, co-founder of Kaspersky Lab, discussed the security of both PCs and Macs at the Info Security 2012 event. He concluded that Apple's security is far behind Microsoft's, and that Apple will need to change its ways when it comes to updates and patches.
According to Kaspersky, Macs are becoming increasingly targeted by malware due to increased Mac sales. In Q2 2012, Apple sold 4 million Macs, which was a 7 percent boost from Q2 2011. Cyber criminals are starting to notice that these computers are becoming more popular and are easy targets for malware attacks.
Earlier this month, Apple finally admitted that its machines have been prone to malware problems. It has had issues with Flashback trojan, also known as Flashfake. This particular trojan disguises itself as an install Java applet on hijacked sites, and when users approve it, the trojan runs a piece of code that exploits a flaw in Java to remove OS X's anti-malware abilities. It also installs alternative control programs, turning the machines into bots.
"Apple is now entering the same world as Microsoft has been in for more than 10 years: updates, security patches and so on," said Kaspersky. "We now expect to see more and more because cyber criminals learn from success and this was the first successful one.
"They will understand very soon that they have the same problems Microsoft had ten or 12 years ago. They will have to make changes in terms of the cycle of updates and so on and will be forced to invest more into their security audits for the software. That's what Microsoft did in the past after so many incidents like Blaster and the more complicated worms that infected millions of computers in a short time. They had to do a lot of work to check the code to find mistakes and vulnerabilities. Now it's time for Apple [to do that]."
According to Kaspersky, Flashback infected about 600,000 machines worldwide (approximately 3,000 in the U.S.) at its peak where 98 percent of these machines were Macs.
"I think they are ten years behind Microsoft in terms of security," said Kaspersky. "For many years I've been saying that from a security point of view there is no big difference between Mac and Windows. It's always been possible to develop Mac malware, but this one was a bit different. For example it was asking questions about being installed on the system and, using vulnerabilities, it was able to get to the user mode without any alarms."