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Malware attacks on Mac OS X on the rise

Kaspersky Lab reports increase in Mac-targeted malware in Q1

Malware attacks on Mac OS X on the rise
Attacks against Mac OS X rose in Q1, says Kaspersky Lab.

The amount of malware targeting the Mac OS X platform increased significantly during the first quarter, according to Kaspersky Lab.

The security company said that the Mac operating system is increasingly coming under targeted attack by cyber criminals. In the first quarter of 2012, over 70 new pieces of malware that target the Mac were uploaded to Kaspersky's anti-virus database, up from around 20 in the previous quarter.

The company also disclosed that the Trojan ‘Downloader.OSX.Flashfake', which it first identified at the end of last year, has created a botnet of 700,000 Mac OS X computers. The developers of the malware had taken steps to make the Trojan harder to detect, such as ensuring that it did not install on computers with protection installed, and through disabling updates of the Mac OS X Xprotect. The malware included an additional module that was designed to replace links in the results of popular search queries, to generate revenues for the attackers.

Kaspersky researchers say they are seeing attacks against Macs in use by businesses, and that hackers are targeting the Mac due to widespread complacency among users. The company identified one case that used an exploit that works for both Windows and Mac OS, with two Trojans, one for Mac and one for Windows, to gain access to confidential records.

"The main reason for the growth in the amount of malware targeting Mac OS X is the growing popularity of the platform among users. Although the number of malicious programs for Mac OS X is currently significantly smaller than that of malware for Windows, it is obvious that cybercriminals are seriously interested in the Mac platform. This means that users should take care to follow the basic security rules.

"Judging by the speed with which new malware is being created for targeted attacks on Mac OS X, it is not that complicated for cybercriminals to develop. Meanwhile, the careless attitude of many Mac users, coupled with a lack of security on their computers, makes Macintosh the weakest link in business security systems," said Yury Namestnikov, senior malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab, and author of the report.

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