Apple's rising popularity lures hackers
By Kevin Allison in San Francisco
Published: December 5 2007 19:18 | Last updated: December 5 2007 19:18
After years of relative safety, the Apple Mac is becoming an increasingly
tempting target for malicious computer hackers, according to a new report
published this week.
Security researchers have been aware of the threat to Apple since last year,
when they detected the first piece of malicious code - or "malware" -
specifically designed to target Apple.
Steep rise in hacking attacks from China Over the past few months, however,
the number of malicious programmes has increased, according to a report
published this week by F-Secure, an internet security company.
"Over the past two years, we had found one or two pieces of malware
targeting Macs," said Patrik Runald, an F-Secure security researcher. "Since
October, we've found 100-150 variants."
The rising security threat could present a challenge to Apple, which has
long touted the security advantages of its platform over those of Microsoft,
whose software is a perennial target for hackers.
"As Apple's platform becomes more visible, it will increasingly come under
the gun," said Roger Kay, an analyst at Endpoint Technologies.
Apple declined to discuss specific steps it was taking to counter the
growing number of attacks. However, Apple said: "We take security very
seriously and have a great track record for addressing vulnerabilities
before they can affect users."
Mr Runald said the jump in attacks against Apple appeared to be the work of
a single gang of professional hackers. The group, known in security circles
as the "Zlob gang", makes programs that infect PCs by tricking users into
thinking they are installing software needed to view copyrighted video
As with other attacks against Apple, the Zlob gang relies on tricking users
to install its malicious software, rather than on exploiting any inherent
Apple sold 2.1m Macs in the third quarter, up from 1.1m in the first quarter
of 2006, according to Gartner, the research group. After years of catering
to a niche audience of Mac lovers, Apple now commands about 10 per cent of
the consumer PC market, according to Mr Kay.
News of Apple's growing profile among professional criminals comes as the
number of viruses and other malicious computer programmes loose on the
internet has doubled over the past 12 months, according to F-Secure.
F-Secure said it had detected 500,000 viruses, trojans and worms in 2007,
compared with 250,000 last year.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007