OS X

Snow Leopard Anti-Malware Called 'Basic'

The industry has been speculating that Apple's Snow Leopard operating system, released this week, would include anti-virus functionality. In reality, the Apple XProtect anti-malware feature defends again

Artwork: Chip Taylor
st just two Trojans, says one security vendor.

"Apple is positioning this more as anti-malware defense-enhancing default security, not anti-virus," says Chet Wisniewski, security analyst at Sophos. The function is intended to defend against two common Trojan attacks that could hit users not using anti-virus software, he says.

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While Snow Leopard does have the ability to update this feature to defend against more types of malware, Apple is informing traditional anti-virus vendors that it won't compete in full-fledged anti-virus defense, Wisniewski says.

"This is very basic," Wisniewski says. "What they're doing is pattern-matching for two well-known Trojans, including one that pretends to be a video player." (Sophos' analysis of the Apple Snow Leopard anti-malware defense can be read here.)

Wisniewski adds that Apple has historically had much less of a problem with malware attacks than Windows; the Macintosh today is subject to a few hundred types of computer viruses while Windows operating systems have been targeted by over 22 million virus specimens, he says.

However, corporate users of Apple computers are typically required to use anti-virus software, he notes, even if it appears that many consumers don't in their home environment.

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