Computer Crime Research Center

You are about to join the

Discussion : Symantec warns: Mac OS X faces hacker threats

Discussion is closed !

Total 8 comments

2006-07-14 20:55:56 -
Hello, very nice site! Please also visit my homepages:

2006-07-14 09:59:53 -
I love the information that u have given me! Thank you!

2006-07-13 23:02:04 -
I really like your great site, useful and pleasant for the eye.

2006-07-12 20:02:49 -
Hello, very nice site! Please also visit my homepages:

2005-09-02 00:20:53 -
Your blog is very interesint

2005-07-31 15:25:35 -
sehr gut Saite. Was machen Sie mein Freund?
keep it up !

2005-07-23 03:05:55 -
Interesting story, but i cant find the updated play version. Looking forward to it.

2005-03-24 15:15:43 -
I'm afraid the section of Symantec's widely reported document that deals with Mac OS X descends to become misleading and somewhat self-serving marketing fodder. One could almost theorise Symantec is campaigning to develop new revenue streams (from Mac users) in light of Microsoft's competitive entry into the Windows AV market.

However the chorus of inflammatory headlines based on this report inflate the issues to panicky extremes:
"Hackers Unleash Worms on Apple",
"Mac Attack/Attention: smug Mac users. You're not safe anymore."
"Mac OS X a hacker target"

Let's look at the statistics:

Microsoft Windows:
Viruses and Worms = 17,500 (
Spyware and Adware programs = 78,000 (
Burrowers = 40 (
80% of PCs infected with spyware (
Last year (2004) alone:
500 new Trojans (
500 new keyloggers (
1,287 new adware apps (
7,360 new viruses and worms (
1,403 new vulnerabilities (

Mac OS X:
Viruses and Worms = 0
Spyware programs = 0
Adware = 0
Keyloggers = 0
Burrowers = 0
Trojans = 3
Last year (2004):
1 Rootkit (
37 new vulnerabilities (

When the evidence is considered, there are still actually no worms, viruses, spyware or adware recorded targeting Mac OS X. It becomes readily apparent that Mac OS X remains the safest, pest-free OS by a more than considerable margin.

Note that Trojans can't spread by themselves - they are bits of code that pretend to be something innocuous and need to be downloaded and opened by an authorised user. In the case of the three targeting Mac OS X, two are harmless while the third deletes a user's home directory if run by that user.

Note also the Rootkit discovered on a couple of OS X machines is a set of scripts that requires root access to be turned on (turned off by default on all Macs). The hacker also needs to know the root password and the malware has no mechanism of spreading and infecting other computers by itself.

Symantec's espousal of the theory of "Security through Obscurity" fails to explain the fact that the number 1 web server, Apache with around 69% marketshare has far fewer attacks (including viruses and worms) than Microsoft's IIS which has captured only 21% of the market ( This theory also does not explain why the many flavours of Linux suffer from so many instances of malware themselves despite having as small a marketshare as OS X.

37 vulnerabilities (mostly in open source components of Mac OS X) which were promptly patched by Apple does not constitute "increased attacks on OS X" as no attacks using any of these now closed vulnerabilities have been recorded.

John Gruber has a useful article on why Windows suffers so much malware:

However, no software can be perfect and it would be foolish to say there won't eventually appear some malware targeting the 10 million+ OS X users out there - however, today is not that day. Mac OS X has been sitting untouched for 4 years now pretty much without blemish which speaks to a very impressive security story even if/when some effective malware appears. This is the quite amazing and constructive issue everyone should be writing about.


Total 8 comments
Copyright © 2001-2013 Computer Crime Research Center
CCRC logo