Barney's Blog

Blog archive

Hackers Take a Big Mac Bite

I've bought six Macs and five of them have been for my kids -- mostly because I don't have to fix them all the time. The only thing that breaks is the hardware. I've never reloaded an OS, installed security software or asked them to reboot the thing. One machine I left running for a year. I forgot it was on! I turned on the monitor, swirled the mouse around, and up came Photoshop! There must have been some kind of special sauce.

Hackers are getting tired of all this fun. It makes them look bad, so now they are getting serious about attacking the Mac.

There have been attacks before, but they've been relatively minor. This time it seems that north of a half million machines were somehow infected by a trojan. It not exactly a billion served but serious nonetheless.

The attack vector, it turns out, was a flaw in Java, which has since been repaired. But of course it is only really repaired if the user updates their Java.

Is the Mac really safer, or do hacker have a soft spot for Steve Jobs' creation?

Posted by Doug Barney on 04/06/2012 at 1:19 PM

comments powered by Disqus

Reader Comments:

Mon, Apr 9, 2012 JC

Security through obscurity isn't secure. The more Macs in the enterprise the more they'll be targeted. It's all about economies of scale. Why code a hack for a few thousands of end points when you can hit millions? We're seeing more of them in our enterprise and are trying to get AV, etc. on them but people tend to repeat the mantra that 'Macs inherently secure'. I usually ask if they've ever heard of Cliff Stoll. A blank stare is the typical response.

Sun, Apr 8, 2012

Computer crackers are like any other programmer in at least one important way: They want to know the skillsets they are building up lead to as many places as possible. As long as the Mac wasn't widely adopted in corporate America, cracking Macs would only take you so far. And that's still true, just not as quite as true as it once was. iPad uptake might explode sooner than later, making it the real Apple OS of choice for crackers.

Sat, Apr 7, 2012 Rich

Funny I run windows and the only time i reload is due to hard drive failure or new PC. I often have servers run for over a year without reboot and they do hard work not forgotten as a useless mac. Any OS issues really boil down to 3rd party software. Any os can run forever unused.

Fri, Apr 6, 2012 Tom

Doug, your still using a mac? that was an old fad from 2009. And your the editor of remond mag. I thought you knew something about computers. Time to unsubscribe from redmond, there is no value to be found here.

Fri, Apr 6, 2012 Randy

As an IT manager with over 30 years in the business, it is a myth that Macs don't need virus protection. I can't tell you how many clients say that to me. Software is man-made and therefore imperfect and can be hacked. It was a matter of time before hackers turned their attention to Macs and that time has come with the acceptance of Apple products in the workplace. Hackers just needed enough commercial incentive.

Fri, Apr 6, 2012 Mike G FL

MACs are safer but only because hackers don't go after them. It is not because they have any soft spot for Apple either. Hackers have no scruples at all. It is simply a numbers game for them. Whether it is a hacker trying to make money (either by a phishing scheme or spamming some worthless product) or simply a virus writer looking to infect as many computers as possible, because so much of the market is held by Microsoft, they target Windows OSs. If (or when) Apple gets a significant share of the computers in use, they too will become a target.

Fri, Apr 6, 2012

Security is a matter of degrees, unpatched Windows XP disconnected from the network is very secure. Mac users who think they don't get viruses and therefor do not configure and plan for security are susceptible to malware.

Fri, Apr 6, 2012 Stuart

It is my understanding the security vulnerabilities in 3rd party applications such as Java, Flash, Acrobat, etc. are the same on any OS. I think it has been quite some time since hackers have attacked the OS, isn't it usually 3rd party applications? So why does it matter if it is MAC or Windows? We only hear about it on Windows more since there are 20+ times more of them. And your comment about needing to fix Windows computers... I suppose that may have been true 10 years ago, but any OS after Windows 200, including Vista, has been quite solid. We are 50% Windows and 50% MAC and we don't spend more time fixing our Windows computers, it is quite the opposite since getting MACs to work in a network environment is quite the task.

Fri, Apr 6, 2012 TipTopMouse Rocky Shore, CO

Honestly, not being snarky, just haven't been in the 'game' lately but does Windows Internet Explorer still integrated so deeply into the Windows operating system that a flaw can lead to a kernel exploit? If so, then any OS that doesn't (Unix, Linux, Mac OS) is safer in that very important aspect since browser exploits seem to be the main target for hackers today. And since I believe hackers today are all about the money, they don't give anyone any slack.

Fri, Apr 6, 2012 Dan Iowa

Famous quote: "It doesn't need antivirus. It's a Mac." 'Nough said.

Fri, Apr 6, 2012 Mike

When you lock down the hardware, the OS and the apps it would seem logical you can have a lot higher degree of control over the bad guys. However, isn't the tech industry against locking everything down so no-one can make it better! Odd double standard that I've never understood.

Add Your Comment Now:

Your Name:(optional)
Your Email:(optional)
Your Location:(optional)
Please type the letters/numbers you see above

Redmond Tech Watch

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.