Apple Adding Malware Defense to Snow Leopard?

Apple Mac meets malware and viruses

Snow Leopard, the latest release of Mac OS X, due Friday, will contain anti-malware features, reports say. If so, Apple would join Microsoft in offering a free security service to all users.

Software bundled with Mac OS 10.6 will be able to detect malicious software and warn users before they download it, according to a report from Mac security software maker Intego.

Representatives from Apple did not return requests for comment by press time.

Even though Apple has long played up the far greater number of viruses on Windows, it has signaled that users should still take precautions against malware. In December, the company began recommending that Mac users consider antivirus software.

Recent months have also seen several new attacks against Mac OS X. In April, Symantec warned about an Apple iWork virus spreading through pirated editions of the software. In June, security vendor Sophos raised the alarm about a new e-mail worm and malware that spreads from visits to a faked adult Web site.

In late June, the Twitter feed of industry luminary (and former Apple employee) Guy Kawasaki briefly began posting links to malware sites that could trick Mac users into downloading a Trojan, according to Sophos. Kawasaki later told that spammers had infiltrated an RSS feed that he used as part of his own Twitter feed.

While Apple has not officially commented on Intego’s report, such a move might have to do with the security risks of pirated software and the rise of bogus antivirus software.

That’s certainly been the case for Microsoft. In the reviewer’s guide (available here in .doc format) for its free security product, Microsoft Security Essentials, the company said that pirated products are often infected — a claim long echoed by many in the security community.

As Symantec’s earlier warning suggested, the same security issues exist on OS X software, even if the sheer quantity of malware directed at Mac users is less than that directed at Windows users.

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