Apple Sneaks Antivirus Signatures into OSX

Justin Kerr

Apple is a company that loves to control the news cycle. The Cupertino based hardware maker has a reputation for calling press conferences to announce even the most trivial new products or feature enhancements, it's annoying, but it seems to work for them. We rarely see a departure from this approach, that is until yesterday.  In its most recent 10.6.4 Snow Leopard upgrade Apple included new antivirus signatures to help fight off some of the more high profile OSX exploits found in the wild.

The most notable of these is a file disguised as the iPhoto application which, when launched, lets attackers send spam, take screenshots, access files, and do just about anything else you can think of. Our guess is that the Apple marketing department couldn't find a positive light to spin the new OS enhancement, so it was conveniently left out of the patch notes. Cnet pointed out, and we agree, that Apple's ongoing refusal to acknowledge security flaws in its products exposes users to greater danger since they are lulled into a false sense of security.

With low single digit market share numbers, OSX exploits will continue to be few and far between, but I don't think anyone would suggest that simply ignoring the problem will make it go away. I'm sure Microsoft would be happy to give Steve a few tips on how to deal with the emerging threat, but somehow I doubt they would take them up on the offer.

Is Apple misleading its customers by telling them they don't need antivirus?

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