ESET Release Heralds Uptick of Mac Security

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ESET issued a pair of security releases aimed at the Mac OS X platform. While the cybersecurity solution doesn't vary dramatically from PC-security products, the launch indicates an anticipated uptick in Mac security releases aimed at combatting a rising tide of threats this year.

The days when Apple’s Mac OS X enjoyed a relatively carefree existence without fear of infection or exploit have long since gone.

That means that vendors – and their respective channel partners -- will increasingly be stockpiling their arms in preparation of an anticipated wave of attacks. ESET happens to be one of them.

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The San Diego, Calf.-based security firm launched a ESET Cyber Security Pro and ESET Cyber Security targeting the Mac OS X platform.

Both security products touts more than a dozen new features. One of the most significant includes a personal firewall that blocks unauthorized users from accessing victim Macs remotely. Like most personal firewalls, the tool enables users to define a range of user profiles with specified firewall settings that customers can assign for specific situations.

Otherwise, the list of Mac anti-malware features doesn’t stray from standard PC-oriented endpoint security sets. Among other things, the Mac security duo touts improved browsing and communication security, hardened with Web and e-mail scanning capabilities. They also include lightweight cloud scans, removable media protection and one-click customizable advanced security settings.

"Although the amount of malware targeted at the Mac platform remains low compared to that aimed at other major platforms such as Windows and Android, it has been steadily increasing since 2004," said Andrew Lee, ESET CEO North America. "That's a troubling trend and one we're committed to addressing. Our new Mac solutions protect against the most advanced malware threats, while still offering the simplicity, speed and 'light footprint,' users expect from ESET products."

Meanwhile, ESET’s product launch isn’t dramatically different than most anti-malware releases targeting PC platforms. However, the solution does illuminate the fact that malware targeting the Mac OS X can no longer be ignored. Last year, Mac security took center stage when a malicious Java exploit emerging as the notorious Flashback Trojan swept across users’ machines by impersonating a Flash player update, infecting more than 600,000 at its peak.

Flashback, and its derivative Flashfake, were essentially no different than most PC Trojans, with the ability to stealthily install on users’ machines, swipe data and send it off to remote Command and Control servers. However, both variants set new standards for Mac malware.

And while likely the most renowned exploits of their kind, they were far from the only threats that perpetrated the Mac OS X platform. Researchers at Kaspersky Lab ZAO last year also discovered a new Mac OS X threat, dubbed MaControl, which exploited a malicious backdoor to send customized e-mails with infected ZIP file attachments to Uyghur activists.

That threat came on the heels of yet another active attack, known as SabPub, which targeted Mac OS X by exploiting an MS Office vulnerability running on the platform.

Undoubtedly, the market is not only available but on the rise, underscored by Mac security launches from Kaspersky Lab, and Trend Micro Inc., as well as Mac patching tools from Panorama9 and others.

This year, it’s a safe bet that more Mac threats will be on the horizon, followed by an uptick of related security launches aimed at protecting users’ machines.

Ultimately, that indicates that it will increasingly be in the best interest of channel partners to keep a small arsenal of Mac security handily tucked away in their portfolios for future use.

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