Apple Mac-Based Security Threats Jumped in 2011

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New Mac-based security threats jumped in 2011, but still remain far below that of Windows PCs, according to a posting by F-Secure Labs.

A total of 58 unique variants were detected from April through December, according to the Labs' Threat Research team. Nearly half, 29, were Trojan-downloaders, which F-Secure defines as a type of Trojan horse program that secretly downloads malicious files from a remote server, then installs and executes them.

BACKGROUND: 2011's biggest security snafus

The F-Secure blog post didn't compare directly the 2011 results with the Mac's 2010 threat numbers, or with Windows' comparable numbers, except to assert that there had been an increase for Mac in 2011, but still very small compared to Windows. The company had not replied to a request for additional data as this story was posted. The post's link to the full Excel spreadsheet on the emerging Mac threats seemed to be broken as of this morning.

The second most common threat category, with 15 detected, was backdoors, or remote administration utilities that are designed to slip past security mechanisms to secretly control a program, computer or network.

Also detected were seven Trojans, which F-Secure describes as non-replicating, deceptive programs that perform additional actions without the user's knowledge or permission; and the same number of rouges, or antivirus programs software that uses false or deceptive tactics to pressure users into installing the code, which once loaded, may not work as claimed.

F-Secure's research shows a kind of roller-coaster threat cycle for Macs last year, with threats rising and falling, peaking in June and again in October.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World. Twitter: Email: Blog RSS feed:

Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.

This story, "Apple Mac-Based Security Threats Jumped in 2011" was originally published by Network World.

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