Apple is "ten years behind Microsoft" in terms of security, an expert has warned. In the wake of the Flashback malware attack on Mac computers, Antivirus mogul Eugene Kaspersky says, "Welcome to Microsoft's world, Mac. It's full of malware."
Kaspersky told CBR that "For many years I've been saying that from a security point of view there is no big difference between Mac and Windows."
His comments stand as a stark warning to Apple in the wake of the Flashback and Flashfake malware attacks, thought to have infected more than 60,000 Macs. Kaspersky said "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."
Traditionally Mac owners have considered themselves immune to viruses and malware, but really it was just their small numbers that protected them. Creators of malware have previously focussed on Windows simply because Windows computers vastly outnumber Macs. But as Apple becomes the biggest company in the world selling boffo numbers of iPhones, iPads and Mac computers, their products are starting to look like increasingly juicy targets. As Eugene Kaspersky puts it, the rise of Mac malware is "just a question of time and market share."
It's worth noting that Mr Kaspersky is the chap behind Kaspersky antivirus software, so it's in his interest to whip up paranoia about malware. It seems that growing numbers of Mac users offer a promising new hunting ground for those in the field of viruses and antiviruses alike.
But how will the rise in Mac malware affect us? Kaspersky reckons that "Apple is now entering the same world as Microsoft has been in for more than 10 years: updates, security patches and so on" -- so look out for more frequent updates if you want to keep your computer safe.
One thing Apple could do is be more up-front when it's attacked. Apple waited months before releasing the Java patch that dealt with Flashback, a patch that was released for Windows way back in February. The company also instructed support staff not to confirm infections in last year's Mac Defender incident, the first major malware attack on Macs.
If you're concerned you may have been infected by the Flashback malware, or just fancy checking to be safe, CNET's published a handy guide on finding and removing the pesky program.
Are you worried about malware on your Mac? Is Apple hardware still safer than Windows, or are those virus-free days over? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook wall.