viernes, 6 de abril de 2012

Apple Malware and Security

Yesterday, I read an interesting article about "Flashback" malware infecting about half a million Apple computers.

While this is not new--Apple computers have been infected with malware before--, the article mentioned three elements that made the infections possible:

1. Apple's software management
When Oracle detected the problem, they issued a vulnerability fix. This fix, however, did not reach Apple users immediately because Apple keeps a tight control of its software. The official fix by Apple was issued two months after Oracle's. Two months is quite a long time, and even if you think it isn't, please remember that not all users apply updates as soon as they are ready. Maybe this is why 500,000 Apple computers are still infected. Of course, half a million computers may seem a very modest botnet compared to Windows botnets, which this year may reach about 10% of all Windows systems according to a Damballa Threat Report, but it is still a lot of computers.

2. Naivete of computer users
According to the article, the malware disguised itself as a Flash Player update. This means something like "If you want to watch this video, you must install this Flash Player update first." When users "updated" their Flash Player, they got a Flashback infection instead. Until when will computer users be easy victims of such social engineering tricks? The problem I see is that the current tendencies in computing are actually making users more and more naive. Now they just want to use the computer without thinking. That is horribly dangerous from my perspective. Any activity a person does without thinking is dangerous. If you don't want to use your brain, someone will use his/hers and will take advantage of you. If you don't want to take my word, then take a snapshot of the computer's wallpaper of any of your friends, attach any stupid error window message to it, then secretly replace the actual wallpaper with your creation, and see what happens when your friends see it.

At least one of them may fall for it because more and more people are being trained not to use their heads when they get near a computer. That is sad.

3. Overconfidence of users about their systems

Owners of Apple computers tend to believe they are immune to viruses and malware, so they take little precautions when being online. This is also true about Linux users. Again, a system may be rock solid, but the weakest part of security systems is the individual responsible for the security. If you believe that Microsoft, A/V companies, Apple, or Tux are the main, or the sole responsible for your computer security, you are the Achilles Heel of your system. That responsibility is yours!

Some systems may be stronger than others, but you must keep an eye open and learn about your system.

4 comentarios:

  1. Interesting. Yesterday, YAHOO! issued this:

    Reading the comments, I was amazed at how misinformed MACs users are. They keep thinking that MACs are immune to viruses...

    1. @Mechatotoro: It really is sad but true. I read that article and I was really tempted to respond, "You know what the best upgrade for a slow, virus-infected PC is? Linux."

      @Megatotoro: Regarding your assertion that it is dangerous for users to do stuff with a tool like a computer without thinking, I think that the reason for this is that there are no physical repercussions to clicking on things without thinking. Misusing a toaster, car, et cetera will cause severe injury or death, and that is clearly to be avoided. Misusing a computer will cause at most loss of data and usually just slow/poor performance, and while most people in that category are annoyed with that, at the same time they know that they can just call upon an "expert" if need be to make things right again, so they will never take the time to learn things about their computer themselves.
      a Linux Mint user since 2009 May 1

  2. @PV,
    Your observation about why users do not care to learn how to use properly their computers is very interesting!

    1. I was about to say exactly the same. I think PV is right.