Hackers are beginning to ramp-up attempts to undermine the security of Macs and iPhones, InfoWorld reports.
"Most Mac users take security too lightly. In fact, most are quite proud of the fact that they don't run any security at all," IDC analyst Chris Christiansen told the magazine. "That's an open door; at some point it will be exploited," he says.
First some numbers: In 2006, the National Institute of Standards and Testing (NIST) tabulated 106 "vulnerabilities" in Apple's Mac OS X. (It defines vulnerabilities as a weakness in the code that could be exploited to perform unauthorized, and generally harmful, functions by the application.) In the first six months of 2007 there were 78 vulnerabilities found in Mac OS X. Windows XP (all flavours), meanwhile, had 55 vulnerabilities in 2006 and 19 in the first six months of 2007. Vista, which wasn't available in 2006, chalked up 19 vulnerabilities in 2007.
In a sense, Apple is a victim of its own success. Savvy hackers read the same stories and watch the same television programs as the rest of us, and so they are very aware of the burgeoning popularity of Apple's products. Hacking Windows still provides a lot more bang per bug than attacks on Apple, but the smaller rival is a more satisfying target than ever before. And the company's deserved reputation for building good products has probably made users overconfident.
"Apple has better commercials, but the Mac is no harder to break into than a Windows PC," says Gartner security analyst John Pescatore. What's more, most IT shops can automatically patch large numbers of PCs at the same time, while Macs generally have to be patched one at a time, he said.
The Bottom Line: Actual attacks on the Mac platform are still unusual. But as it becomes a juicier target, that will change. Why take a chance? Give a lot more thought to securing your Macs this year, InfoWorld concludes.