Monday, November 12, 2012

Exploding a Common K-12 Technology Security Myth

Top Mac Malware

By virtue of the time I’ve spent in the PC industry since its earliest days, it’s not unusual for friends on School Committees or Education Boards to ask me some of their key questions as they make decisions on the technology that will be used in their schools.  Not surprisingly, in the last few years, many of the questions deal with security and privacy.  And this is where the myth in question comes in:  It’s the myth that Apple’s Macintosh “doesn’t get viruses” or “doesn’t get malware”.  It’s not true.  In fact, given that most Macs have no security software, guess where some virus writers are now focused? (OK, now cue the flames from the Mac faithful).

Rather than get all emotional, let’s stay with the facts and the requirement to have a secure environment for K-12 computing.  The reason that I think exploding this myth is very important is that this false sense of security has created a situation where too many Macs in K-12 have little or no protection.  Worse, too often the savings from forgoing security on Macs is part of the justification for paying more for them.

Starting with viruses, the reality is that Mac viruses have emerged.

While not as prevalent as viruses on the Windows platform, they still exist.  From OSX.Iservice, designed to enlist Macs into DDOS attacks, to OSX.RSPlug.D, which was a downloader, there are actual viruses out there.  Despite the vast difference in numbers and attack vectors, the reality for elementary schools is that you need to have anti-virus in place for Macs, just like for other systems.  Infections on Macs are less common but, how much risk are you willing to take that you won’t get hit?  To me the answer is not much.  With all the file sharing and collaborative work common in schools, a virus exploit in one system is going to spiral out of control quickly.

And the reality is that Mac malware is catching up.  Before we get into the Mac-specific malware details, for those in the K-12 space running mixed environments, it’s important to note that based on recent research by Sophos, 20 percent of Macs are harboring Windows malware. So Windows PC getting “sick” from unprotected Macs is common.  As for Mac-only malware, the latest research shows 2 to 3 percent of Macs have Mac malware on the system.  The FlashBack botnet gets a lot of attention, as it infected well over half a million systems, but “Fakeware,” like fake anti-virus tools designed to get credit card numbers when you “buy” them, are increasing in numbers, as well.

I’m not saying that you should or shouldn’t buy any specific brand of computer.  Rather, I’m telling you that if you think one brand is better because it doesn’t get infected, you’re wrong.  And any perceived benefits or cost savings from this myth are mythical, as well.  In my opinion, working with technology partners that understand that security is essential, and not something left to an incorrect piece of conventional wisdom, is what you need to remember.

Image source

View the original article here

No comments:

Post a Comment