06 Jun 2011

New operating system, and new anxiety about security

Concerns about a recent phishing scheme hovered over today’s unveiling of Apple’s newest Macintosh operating system, OS X Lion, at the Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco.

Announcing Lion’s launch, Philip Schiller, senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, said, “The Mac has outpaced the PC industry every quarter for five years running and with OS X Lion we plan to keep extending our lead.”

This growing popularity of the Mac might be something for Schiller to boast about, but it also threatens to make the company’s computers increasingly attractive to hackers and other cyber criminals.

At the end of May, Macs were compromised by malware that opened a window on users’ screens and directed them to purchase security software. Unwitting victims provided their credit card numbers.

Speaking to NPR, Bloomberg News technology columnist Rich Jaroslovsky said schemes of this type have historically targeted the more popular Windows computers, but Apple products might be coming more heavily under attack.

Jaroslovsky also warned that because the Mac operating system is related to those on Apple’s iPhone and iPad, there is the risk of hacks becoming widespread.

While touting Lion’s features, such as the ability to easily set up wireless connections with nearby Mac computers, the official Apple press release about the operating system does not mention any new security features.