Apple "ten years behind Microsoft" in malware readiness

Apple is a decade behind Microsoft in terms of Mac malware security, research firm Kaspersky has contentiously suggested, something it predicts the Cupertino firm will quickly realize in a fast-approaching storm of rogue software. "I think they are ten years behind Microsoft in terms of security" company CEO Eugene Kaspersky told Computer Business Review at a security event this week, predicting a torrent of malware is incoming for OS X and that Apple will have to pull its boots up in order to handle it.

The warning is a timely one, with OS X currently seeing a spate of attacks from various versions of the Flashback malware. Apple pushed out a series of updates, but Kaspersky has – along with other security firms – been critical of the time it took to respond to the danger.

"For many years I've been saying that from a security point of view there is no big difference between Mac and Windows" Kaspersky pointed out. "It's always been possible to develop Mac malware, but this one was a bit different. For example it was asking questions about being installed on the system and, using vulnerabilities, it was able to get to the user mode without any alarms."

Initial estimates of Flashback's penetration and decline were, some researchers have claimed this week, overly-optimistic. At the peak of infections, Dr. Web claimed, around 817,000 systems were infected, and on average 550,000 contacted the authors' command and control servers during any 24-hour period.

"Apple is now entering the same world as Microsoft has been in for more than 10 years: updates, security patches and so on" Kaspersky says. "We now expect to see more and more because cyber criminals learn from success and this was the first successful one. [Apple] will understand very soon that they have the same problems Microsoft had ten or 12 years ago. They will have to make changes in terms of the cycle of updates and so on and will be forced to invest more into their security audits for the software."

Macs have long been considered "safe" from malware and viruses, and many users of OS X have no anti-virus software running on their computers. Flashback can, for the most part, be avoided by treating Java with some caution (or shutting it off completely) but that may not always be the case.