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Endpoint Security Blog

The Halo Effect & What Businesses Need to Know about Macs, Malware & Security Myths

Created: 19 Nov 2013 • Updated: 25 Nov 2013 • 4 comments • Translations available: 日本語
khaley's picture
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It’s called the Halo Effect. iPods and iPhones created a “halo” that drove sales of Macs to business users. I noticed it a couple years ago, as I watched the number of Macs sitting around the conference room table began to grow. There got to be lots of those silver rectangles, with the glowing white apple, sitting on the table. Apple reported 50 percent growth in Mac sales to businesses in Q4 2013. But as more of us are using Macs for business, some common misperceptions about Mac security persist. What do organizations need to know?

Cybercriminals always focus their efforts where they see the most “bang for their buck” – the larger PC market. It’s a game of numbers – hackers go after what will give them the greatest return on investment. Up to this point, that’s been targeting Windows systems. While the volume of malware targeted at Macs is still low compared to PCs, the halo has been noticed. Attackers have started to go after the Mac. 

We’ve all heard about Flashback, the single threat that spread to more than 600,000 Mac users. But there is another aspect that really ought to get you thinking. Macs are often the computer of choice for executive managers. These executives have access to sensitive information like financial and corporate data, and hackers are likely to target these Mac users because the data on their devices is valuable. 

Just in the last year, we saw the following newly discovered threats for Mac. In quotes is the description of the threat from Symantec’s Threat Write-Ups:

OSX.Netweird – “Full featured remote access tool”

OSX.Kitmos – “Opens a backdoor on machine and steal information”

OSX.Hackback – “Trojan horse that steals information from the compromised computer”

OSX.Janicab – “Opens a back door and steals information from the compromised computer“

OSX.Hormesu – Opens a back door on the compromised computer, may steal information”

OSX.Seadoor – “Opens a back door, steals information…”

OSX.Olyx.C – “Opens a backdoor…”

You get the idea.

It’s time to bring those corporate Macs into the family of endpoint machines at your business. They need to be fully protected and managed in order for businesses to maximize productivity and mitigate risk. The recent release of Symantec’s Endpoint Protection (SEP) 12.1.4 makes Mac protection easy and provides additional enhancements across platforms. The latest version of SEP offers intrusion prevention technology and antivirus protection, with single console management and reporting for Windows and Mac. With support for the latest Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks and Windows 8.1, SEP 12.1.4 provides remote deployment of Mac clients, doesn’t require Java, and saves bandwidth by downloading AV definitions directly from the SEP Manager. It also offers immediate notification of critical events through Fast Path. By implementing robust security and following general best security practices, businesses can rest assured their users are safe from evolving threats – whether on a Mac or PC. To learn more, visit go.symantec.com/SEP.

Learn more about Symantec’s comprehensive approach to targeted attack protection here and our innovative new Disarm technology here.

Additional Resources:

Gartner 2013 Magic Quadrant for Endpoint Protection Platforms

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Andrew Wiggin's picture

I am surprised that the Mac community has not been targeted by more Trojans.
I guess it comes down to bang for buck as you said - there are simply fewer macs.
Also, I imagine mac users are less inclined to send money for fake security programs - especially given that most people think macs do not have viruses.

Interesting note about executives using Macs. I wonder if there is any real advantage or if it is simply that Macs are cool & expensive and top executives get whatever they want.

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nugame's picture

I have been hearing the reason why my clients picked Macs and dropped PC. They say macs do not get infected and do not have to spend to get security. it is like talking to a wall. the malicious attacks on Macs are on the rise I tell them due to Macs grwoth. I say, there are more Macs for the hackers to work on now. However, the real point I make with them is if they do not get hit, they are carries of the malicous code to pass one via emails and network sharing. I have one customer with a Mac 10.7 and he was attached three times. The Norton I put in some time ago did the job to stop the threat and save the system.

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Logan Fox's picture

Mac is more practical when regards to viruses. Nice article nevetheless. - YOR Health Products

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