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This article was published on May 14, 2012

Kaspersky Labs now says quote about it assisting Apple with OS X security was wrong [Updated]

Kaspersky Labs now says quote about it assisting Apple with OS X security was wrong [Updated]
Matthew Panzarino
Story by

Matthew Panzarino

Matthew Panzarino was Managing Editor at TNW. He's no longer with the company, but you can follow him on Twitter. Matthew Panzarino was Managing Editor at TNW. He's no longer with the company, but you can follow him on Twitter.

Updated below.

With the recent spate of Mac malware occurrences, including two variations which leveraged vulnerabilities in Java, it’s become a matter of necessity for Apple to be more proactive about OS X security. The company has decided to do so by enlisting the help of security company Kaspersky Labs, reports Computing.

After the Flashback malware was found to be affecting some 700,000 Macs, and fixes released by Apple have only slowly chipped away at the infections.

Kaspersky CTO Nikolai Grebennikov says that “Mac OS is really vulnerable and Apple recently invited us to improve its security,” adding, “we’ve begun an analysis of its vulnerabilities, and the malware targeting it.”

Grebennikov says that Apple’s lack of ‘seriousness’ when it comes to security opened a way for the flashback vulnerability to spread, by blocking Oracle updates to Java and patching the browser plugin itself. By lagging on fixing a vulnerability, the systems opened themselves to attack.

He also makes an interesting statement about Apple’s mobile OS, saying “”Our experience tells us that in the near future, perhaps in a year or so, we will see the first malware targeting iOS.”

Since iOS is far more heavily protected by sandboxing and application silos than Mac OS X is, any malware affecting it would have to be extremely innovative in its construction.

Apple has said that it is working to attack the botnet that is spreading the infection. It has already released a patch to Java and a standalone removal tool to address the issue.

The fact that the numbers are not dropping as dramatically as it first seemed isn’t anything crazy to worry about, but it does show that Apple still has a lot of work to do to contain Flashback. All of this even as a new threat, in the SabPub backdoor infection, rears its head.

In late April, Kaspersky CEO Eugene Kaspersky said that Apple was ‘10 years behind Microsoft in security.’

Hopefully, with the help of Kaspersky, Apple can be more proactive about addressing malware. Perhaps it can even come up with a native anti-malware (and anti-virus) solution that ships with OS X, providing an Apple-supported way to combat malware as Macs get more popular and become larger targets for hackers and exploits.

UpdateJim Dalrymple of The Loop points to a statement given to Engadget by Kaspersky, which says that a quote from the company’s CTO was taken out of context:

The article reports that Kaspersky Lab had “begun the process of analyzing the Mac OS platform at Apple’s request” to identify vulnerabilities. This statement was taken out of context by the magazine – Apple did not invite or solicit Kaspersky Lab’s assistance in analyzing the Mac OS X platform. Kaspersky Lab has contacted to correct its article.

The full quote from Grebennikov was provided as well:

“As Mac OS X market share continues to increase, we expect cyber-criminals to continue to develop new types of malware and attack methods. In order to meet these new threats, Kaspersky Lab has been conducting an in-depth analysis of Mac OS X vulnerabilities and new forms of malware.

This security analysis of Mac OS X was conducted independently of Apple; however, Apple is open to collaborating with us regarding new Mac OS X vulnerabilities and malware that we identify during our analysis. Kaspersky Lab is committed to providing the highest level of security for all of our customers, including Mac OS X, and we will continue to enhance our technologies in order to meet the ever-changing threat landscape. “

So, Kaspersky continues to investigate Mac OS X malware, something that it stands to directly profit from by the way, but it does so on its own initiative, not Apple’s.