When you're assessing risk within your environment, it's a good idea to consider the return on investment for possible intruders.
Is there a way to get into your environment that would be less costly to them than what they expect to gain? When it comes to Windows machines, businesses may have a good idea what this cost would be. But when it comes to Macs and other Apple devices, many people simply say ‘Macs don't get viruses' and carry on their merry way.
However that statement has never been true, in any sense. Macs get malware, Macs even had a major outbreak earlier this year that infected over 600,000 users worldwide. Many organisations fail to protect their Macs with as many layers of security as they would a Windows machine, or they fail to patch or update software in a timely fashion.
Because of this, Macs become a low-cost point of entry for intruders wanting to breach an organisation. Since many of the most popular Apple products are mobile (laptops, phones and tablets), they carry special risks because they're so easily lost or stolen.
While the options for cyber criminals on the Windows platform are undeniably more plentiful, that matters very little. Mac malware authors are often developers of Windows malware as well, and they've learned a lot from their years of evading detection by Windows-based security solutions. The level of complexity of Mac malware and its stealthy capabilities are already on par with threats built for Windows.
One area where there's been a lot of growth in Mac malware is in targeted attacks. This usually takes the form of a backdoor Trojan hidden in a dropper file, often a poisoned MS Office or Adobe PDF file. Once a user has been enticed to run this seemingly innocent file on a supposedly virus-proof operating system, criminals can steal data from the machine or eavesdrop on network traffic that could help them creep further into the business's environment.
Another popular attack vector, which was used by the Flashback malware, is via drive-by downloads. These frequently rely on vulnerabilities in third party software, such as Java, that work on all common operating systems so that the malware can check which one is on the machine and then infect appropriately.
The vast majority of these threats are the usual crop of scareware and spyware, the latter of which is particularly worrisome in an enterprise environment.
New Mac malware is coming at a faster and faster pace each year as Apple's products grow in popularity. It may never reach the torrential force of new malware released for Windows, but that does not mean it's not a very real threat.
If your network or the data on it is deemed to be worth the effort, cyber criminals already have the tools at their disposal to attack Macs. It's time to make sure your security policies and tools are protecting Macs and Apple devices to the same extent that your Windows machines are protected.
Lysa Myers is a virus hunter for Intego