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Wednesday, 23 January 2008 03:11

If you buy it, they will come

Mac shipments were up in 2007, and the year also saw the arrival of financially-motivated malware targeting the platform. Coincidence?

Graham Cluley doesn't think so. "Although Macs have a long way to go in the popularity stakes before they overtake PCs, particularly in the workplace, their increased attractiveness to consumers has proven irresistible to some criminal cybergangs," said the senior technology consultant at Sophos.

Cluely suggests that whether this becomes a trend depends largely on the behaviour of Mac users. If they avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails and steer clear of downloading programs of uncertain provenance, "there's a chance they could send a clear message to the hackers that it's not financially rewarding to target Macs."

Interestingly, he didn't recommend installing prophylactic software, even though Sophos is one of the companies that produces antivirus software for the Mac.

As reasonable as this avoidance strategy seems, Sophos also draws our attention to the number of web pages that are being hacked to automatically deliver malware targeting Windows or Mac OS X as appropriate without the knowledge of the site owner. So even if we do the things Cluely suggests, it's still possible for unwanted code to find its way onto our systems.

While it's relatively easy for organisations to protect their systems from such threats through filtering services or appliances, what's an individual supposed to do?

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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