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Apple in Denial

Note: Many of the security articles I have written about Apple on this blog are negative and the reader could think I do not like Apple. This is actually very far from the truth, I am a big Apple fan; but I am also a security professional and I do not agree with their overall security strategy.

The title of this post is inspired directly from an Article I read on ZDnet, discussing the latest security threat that infected an estimated half a million Mac with malware: “BackDoor.Flashback.39″.

Mac Trojans are evolving and becoming more frequent, last August a Mac Trojan (Bash/Qhost.WB)was found in a fake Flash updater that once installed would redirect google search results to “bad sites”, then in September another Mac Trojan (OSX/Flashback.A) was found by Intego using a similar exploit mechanism but with a different payload, this time it was more complex and disabling some security settings on the infected systems as well as attempting to inject some code in running processes toultimatelyleak personal information.

Both Trojans had a relatively low success rate, as it relied either on the user to download a file and run it, or… for an attacker to adapt some kind of “EvilGrade” attacks where DNS MIT attacks could be leveraged to intercept legitimate software update requests and replace the update status answers with the need to upload the Mac Trojans.

However, a few days ago another variant surfaced. As mentioned by Intego, this latest threat to Mac Users is more of a “drive-by-download” threat than a “Trojan”. What it means is that malware can be pushed onto a Mac computer just by visiting a compromised site, it does not require for the user to take any actions such as entering their passwords or confirming for a new software to be installed. The compromise happens silently!

As a result, the infection rate is much stronger: More than half a million Mac users! and the impact is much worse: it will leave the victim’s computer vulnerable to be remotely commanded as part of aBotnet.

To check if your mac has been infected you can follow thoseSTEPS.

It could be considered as the first major security crisis to affect the Mac OSX, one that will have the first major exposure in the media (BBC, CNN, FORBES, etc) and one, I hope, that will pave the way for Apple to rethink their security strategy (although I have very little hope!). The fact this Java vulnerability was known a couple of months ago and that Oracle had provided a patch since the 14th of February does not play in Apple’s favor. By wanting to control everything (including Java updates) Apple is playing with fire when it comes to IT Security.This is hardly surprising, although I am very tempted to say *I told you so* (see previous posts), I will just echo the ZDnet article I mentioned at the beginning, this security mess is the result of Apple being in denial with the IT security landscape and the threats that every computer and user faces regardless of the Operating System they are on.

This state of denial is also exploited by the “Trojan” itself as it will apparently not install if it finds some software that could be used to analyse it and therefore not target a computer belonging a user that may be aware that there is more to security than a slogan “I am a Mac, I am secure”

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