Even Geniuses Get Bad Software?

Some say that there are two types of people in the world: people who are worried about getting malware and Mac users.

While malicious software has aggravated PC users for more than 25 years, Apple devotees have generally avoided troubles with malware. This magical-feeling of immunity helped many Mac users develop a religious-like faith in their computers. But this faith has been shaken in recent weeks for some fans by a threat many PC users have become familiar with the hard way: scareware.

Apple has downplayed the impact of the attacks by the Mac Defender rogue antivirus family, but anecdotal evidence from Apple Store Geniuses suggests the problem is widespread. On May 24th, Apple acknowledged the problem and issued guidance to help users avoid and remove Mac Defender. An update that protects users from these attacks is expected from Apple by the beginning of June.

If you use the Safari browser on your Mac, you should immediately disable automatic file opening. You can do this by going to Preferences -> General then uncheck “Open ‘safe’ files after downloading”. Mac users also need to develop a healthy suspicion of any program that attempts to install itself, as many PC users have.

In some ways, facing undeniable security threats is a compliment to Apple. In 2008, an academic paper predicted that Macs were likely to become a focus for online criminals around the time they hit 16% market share. Macs now make up 15.36% of the PC market in the US. But, as F-Secure Labs explains, one data point isn’t enough to explain why many Mac users are thinking about security for the first time.

Apple products aren’t likely to face the flurry of attacks that now target Windows XP in the near future, and Mac users can take action to protect themselves.  F-Secure has offered Mac Anti-Virus through our operator partners for a while. We recently decided to offer it directly to consumers, and recent events prove that our timing couldn’t be better. You can try our Mac Anti-Virus for free now using the promo code AVMAGL.

I imagine that some Mac loyalists would disagree that Macs need AV. Why use an umbrella when it’s not raining? they might ask. We would argue that skies are starting to get a little gray. As F-Secure’s Chief Research Officer Mikko Hypponen recently tweeted, “Slowly but surely, Apple will be targeted by more and more malware. Apple should realize this and stop trying to hush it up.”

Cheers,

Sandra

CC image Rolon2000

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Why your Apple Watch will probably never be infected by malware

On Tuesday Apple announced its latest iPhone models and a new piece of wearable technology some have been anxiously waiting for -- Apple Watch. TechRadar describes the latest innovation from Cupertino as "An iOS 8-friendly watch that plays nice with your iPhone." And if it works like your iPhone, you can expect that it will free of all mobile malware threats, unless you decide to "jailbreak" it. The latest F-Secure Labs Threat Report clears up one big misconception about iOS malware: It does exist, barely. In the first half of 2014, 295 new families and variants or mobile malware were discovered – 294 on Android and one on iOS.  iPhone users can face phishing scams and Wi-Fi hijacking, which is why we created our Freedome VPN, but the threat of getting a bad app on your iOS device is almost non-existent. "Unlike Android, malware on iOS have so far only been effective against jailbroken devices, making the jailbreak tools created by various hacker outfits (and which usually work by exploiting undocumented bugs in the platform) of interest to security researchers," the report explains. The iOS threat that was found earlier this year, Unflod Baby Panda, was designed to listen to outgoing SSL connections in order to steal the device’s Apple ID and password details. Apple ID and passwords have been in the news recently as they may have played a role in a series of hacks of celebrity iCloud accounts that led to the posting of dozens of private photos. Our Mikko Hypponen explained in our latest Threat Report Webinar that many users have been using these accounts for years, mostly to purchase items in the iTunes store, without realizing how much data they were actually protecting. But Unflod Baby Panda is very unlikely to have played any role in the celebrity hacks, as "jailbreaking" a device is still very rare. Few users know about the hack that gives up the protection of the "closed garden" approach of the iOS app store, which has been incredibly successful in keeping malware off the platform, especially compared to the more open Android landscape. The official Play store has seen some infiltration by bad apps, adware and spamware -- as has the iOS app store to a far lesser degree -- but the majority of Android threats come from third-party marketplaces, which is why F-Secure Labs recommends you avoid them. The vast majority of iPhone owners have never had to worry about malware -- and if the Apple Watch employs the some tight restrictions on apps, the device will likely be free of security concerns. However, having a watch with the power of a smartphone attached to your body nearly twenty-four hours a day promises to introduce privacy questions few have ever considered.    

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