Mac users targeted in cybercriminal attacks

October 9, 2012

Apple has a reputation for protecting its customers' devices from unsolicited malware and viruses. In the wake of recent reports, however, Macs may not be as secure as consumers think. According to Forbes, some hackers are beginning to steer away from infiltrating PCs and are focused on cracking Apple's network security system.

Seth Hardy, a security researcher at the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab, recently told participants of the SecTor conference in Toronto that there has been a noticeable difference in the number of Mac-focused malware targeting human rights groups in the past year, InfoSecurity Magazine reported.

In a separate report, Sophos analyzed 100,000 Apple computers with installed antivirus software and found that one in five Macs contained malware, reaffirming Hardy's conclusions.

The most popular botnet used by cybercriminals to conduct fraud on Macs is Flashback, a Java vulnerability that infected more than 600,000 devices in the past year, Forbes reported. Other malware that human rights activists reported to the Citizen's Lab researchers included Revir/Muler, Sabpab, Maccontrol, Netweird and Davinci.

Security measures to protect computers
Although Macs are not being targeted as often as PCs - ComputerWorld reported that the malware infection rate for Windows 7 increased by 182 percent in 2012 - the handful of attacks prove that Apple computers are penetrable. Employees must therefore be careful when using their devices in the workplace or at home.

Business owners should teach their workers about necessary security measures, including passwords, security software and antivirus programs. People must also be cautious when opening unknown attachments or links that may lead them to an infected website.

Experts predict that Mac-focused malware attacks will continue to increase. However, as long as users take precautions and update their software, Mac systems can still protect data from cybercriminals.

-McAfee Cloud Security