Apple devices becoming greater target for cyber attacks

  • May 15, 2012
  • Dan Ford

While the success of Apple products has continued unabated of late, the company's reputation for security has come under fire. Although a prevailing lack of malware once stood as a competitive differentiator for Apple operating systems, their popularity has been attracting some unwanted attention.

Just as we have seen bogus antivirus apps and other threats target Mac users in recent years, hackers have been refining their techniques to set traps in the iOS ecosystem as well. And as more questions are asked of the company, there's no guarantee that enterprise IT professionals will like what they're going to hear.

Apple's strong standing in the mobile marketplace was recently underscored in a first quarter review authored by cloud security specialists at ZScaler. According to the report, iOS devices now account for more than 50 percent of all mobile web traffic in the enterprise. Both BlackBerry and Android traffic declined in the first three months of the year while Windows Phone continues to be an afterthought for the time being.

With more malware popping up into Apple operating systems of late, and the company's brand loyalty as healthy as ever, analysts suggest that companies need to be monitoring these developments now that we've officially crossed the threshold into a BYOD world and malicious code targeting Apple operating systems will be problematic to both consumers and businesses.

"This latest wave of infection is a wake-up call to Apple customers that their system is not immune to threats," ZScaler senior security researcher Mike Geide explained in an interview with CIO Insight. "The need to follow best security practices, such as remaining current with patches, is ubiquitous - it doesn't matter if you're using Windows, Mac or even a mobile phone."

The problem is, Apple isn't exactly clearing the path for customers to follow. The trouble began back in April, according to CIO Insight, as reports emerged to suggest that the company had waited several months before intervening to thwart a Trojan that had infected more than 600,000 Mac users worldwide.

But even after the company got its act together, the remedy provided has not always produced a comprehensive cure. For instance, a recent OS X Lion security update inadvertently led to user file storage utility passwords being stored in plain text format.

With Apple still getting its feet under itself in the security arena, it important not to give Apple devices, including iPhones and iPads, preferential treatment in your mobile security and risk management plans. While Apple has done many things right and we haven't yet seen any headline news stories about malicious exploits, we all know how quickly things can change - particularly when a few clever hackers set their sights on an attractive new target.

About the Author

Dan Ford
Chief Security Officer
Dan has been an information security professional for more than 15 years, and has worked for notable organizations such as XM Radio, Secure Computing, McAfee, Nominum, and Accuvant. He has extensive experience running security programs within the government segment; his most notable role was as Director of Network Security at the Transportation and Security Administration, which was the largest managed service contract within the federal government. Dan joined Fixmo in 2012 to drive security and technology innovation within Fixmo's suite of Mobile Risk Management solutions.


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