Apple’s recent announcements have done well to muffle the hype surrounding the Mac Defender threat targeting Macs. However, we got a chance to talk with the people at Avast, who recently released a free Mac antivirus, and we’re eager to share their thoughts with you, just to turn away from la glare of WWDC for a few minutes.
Ondrej Vlcek, chief technology officer at Avast, was eager to give us his opinion on the severity of the Mac Defender trojan that prompted Apple to take serious action for the first time.
With a fourth Mac Defender variant emerging hours after Apple's Security Update 2011-003 had been released, we concluded that Cupertino was beginning to engage in its first ever tag-you’re-it game with cyber criminals.
“Yes, definitely. It can be seen on both rates of updates of XProtect and the fact that malware creators reacted to it in a few hours. This is sure to be continued,” he told us.
Ondrej elaborated, saying “It's both Apple who got caught off guard, and its end-users, who believed in the ‘secure Mac platform’ myth and neglected using AV software (although it has been available for quite a long time for the Mac platform).”Just like Graham Cluley
(senior technology consultant at Sophos), Avast’s Vlcek sees a bad move in Apple’s advertising Mac OS X as more secure.
“To some extent is true, but not because it's safer per se, but because it's still a minority platform which is often not worth the hassle for the bad guys,” Vlcek told Softpedia.
However, he admits Apple is also taking the appropriate steps to counter cyber criminals.
“[The cybercriminals’] quick reaction tells us that they are not going to be stopped with just 1 update from Apple. They are constantly updating their fakeAV all the time.”
“We think there will be future updates, since malware creators already use techniques (like distributing dropper only, not actual malware), that imply quick updating to make it undetected,” he added.
Still, his final advice echoes that of most security experts: “Use an antivirus software. Some are available even free of charge.”
To highlight just how important it has become for Mac users to try and stay on the safe side, Ondrej drew an interesting comparison:
“Think of it as a condom: the price to pay for it is very small, compared to the risks of getting infected.”