Apple's Macs Hit By Malware; Are iPhones Next? Apple computers have avoided most serious virus attacks, but that era may be over. As the company prepared for this week's developers conference, it was also taking steps to stop a malware "phishing" program.
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Apple's Macs Hit By Malware; Are iPhones Next?

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Apple's Macs Hit By Malware; Are iPhones Next?

Apple's Macs Hit By Malware; Are iPhones Next?

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Today Apple's CEO Steve Jobs will speak to thousands of Apple software developers who've gathered in San Francisco for an annual conference. Jobs is expected to offer details on a new online music storage system and the latest operating system among other positives. What he may not talk about is a recent attack on Mac computers.

Up until now, Apple products have been blissfully free of computer attacks, but that era may be ending.

We called Bloomberg technology analyst Rich Jaroslovsky to find out more.

And thank you for joining us again.

Mr. RICH JAROSLOVSKY (Technology Analyst, Bloomberg News and Bloomberg Businessweek): Thank you.

MONTAGNE: Tell us about this attack. What form did it take?

Mr. JAROSLOVSKY: Well, this is a category known as malware. And in this case what happens is that when you visit an infected website, the site installs a program on your computer that opens a window with a scary-sounding message that tells you that your computer is infected and that you need software to eradicate the infection and to please give your credit card number. So what it is is a category known broadly as phishing. And what they're really after is your credit card information, which they can then put to various nefarious purposes.

MONTAGNE: And, of course, people are savvy, often, and don't give out their credit cards, but just enough of them give them out for this to work.

Mr. JAROSLOVSKY: Exactly. And what's interesting about this is that up until now this has been a fairly common sort of thing in the Windows world, and after all, most computers in the world are still Windows. But as the Mac has grown, particularly in the consumer market, individual don't have corporate IT departments to warn them don't do this, and so just enough of them are doing it so that it's become a real problem. And in some ways it's almost a rite of passage for the Mac because it says that it's now mainstream enough so that the bad guys are targeting it.

MONTAGNE: And the bad guys at this point, do we know who they might be?

Mr. JAROSLOVSKY: We really don't know much about who they might be. At least if people, if security experts do they're not yet telling us. These programs open up with names like MacDefender. There's a variant called MacProtector. And, of course, the names themselves are deeply ironic because the last thing that they want to do is protect you.

MONTAGNE: And what does this mean for Apple mobile devices, you know, the iPhone?

Mr. JAROSLOVSKY: The kernel of the Mac operating system, the sort of core of it, is also found in Apple mobile devices. And so, a successful attack on the Mac theoretically could become something that could also affect mobile devices. Now because Apple runs its App Store so tightly and you really can't download anything on to the mobile device that hasn't gone through Apple's approval process, there's a certain built-in extra layer of protection there. But it does point up, and if nothing else it's highly symbolic of the fact that nothing is safe.

MONTAGNE: And, of course, in that whole that you're just speaking of, it's iPad, iPod Touch. I mean it's not even just them. I mean that's a big universe, isn't it at this point?

Mr. JAROSLOVSKY: It's a very big universe of i-devices. I think right now Apple still has something like 90 percent of the tablet market and, of course, it's growing very, very rapidly. But in addition, it also points up the fact that you've got this additional large universe of Android devices which don't even have the level of protection perhaps that the Apple products do. So it basically it should be a wakeup call to consumers to be extra vigilant, not only with their Windows computers, which they already know have issues, but essentially with any device that they use that connects to the Internet.

MONTAGNE: Rich Jaroslovsky is the technology columnist for Bloomberg News.

Thanks very much.

Mr. JAROSLOVSKY: Thank you.

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