Security expert says Mac users may have a false sense of security

Spyware and keystroke loggers have often been thought of as a Windows only problem, but Nicholas Raba, CEO of and co-author of Maximum Security says many Apple Macintosh users may have a false sense of security. SecureMac has released MacScan which detects and removes Macintosh spyware, remote administration utilities and keystroke loggers. In a telephone interview, Raba talked to us about current and future Macintosh spyware and virus threats.

Raba hails from Las Vegas, Nevada and has been programming on the Macintosh since the Mac Classic days. He has been involved in the computer security for several years and has authored Mac Security in 2004 and co-authored the 4th edition of Maximum Security.

MacScan, one of the few Macintosh anti-spyware programs, was released in 2002 and recently reached version 2.0. It currently recognizes, quarantines and deletes dozens of spyware programs and keystroke loggers and Raba adds, "And I'm not talking about cookies. You'll see that other anti-spyware programs classify browser cookies as spyware." The program is freely downloadable for a 15 day free trial. Afterwards, a perpetual license is $24.95. With a booth at the upcoming Macworld in San Franscisco and a retail push, Raba wants MacScan to become a household name like Ad-Aware or Symantec.

Raba told us that spyware makers have not hit the Macintosh as hard as windows because, "there is much more money to be made by spreading spyware on Windows." He adds that it is technically a bit harder to get malicious code to run on Mac OS X's BSD-based kernel, but says, "If you have decent programming skills, you can make a spyware or virus program."

Keystroke loggers, programs that record every key typed by a user, are also detected by MacScan. "There are actually quite a few keystroke loggers for OS X ," says Raba. He adds that home users and especially users of shared computers should scan for these loggers. Raba told us that MacScan also checks for remote administrative utilities like VNC. "In addition to finding spyware and keystroke loggers, the program let's you know that a remote administration utility is installed," says Raba. He added that MacScan doesn't actually remove the remote administration utility.

People who are frustrated with computer viruses and spyware are constantly told to buy a Macintosh, but Raba told us that this just gives them a false sense of security. "Sure it may be one of the more secure operating systems, but you can't go with the attitude that there are no viruses for the Mac," says Raba. He adds that proof of concept virus code is already running around the Internet and that a major Mac virus is inevitable. "Anyone with programming skills could make something, the majority don't bother because they don't want to go to jail," says Raba.