10 Aug 2011

Mac networks vulnerable to attack

Mac computer networks are vulnerable to attack, internet security experts warned audiences at the recent Black Hat conference in Las Vegas.

The researchers said Apple’s OS X Lion operating system includes many praiseworthy security features, but an “inherently insecure” authentication routine means a single infected Mac could spread malware throughout an entire network, The Register reports.

One of the researchers, Alex Stamos, told the news source that he and his colleagues developed proof-of-concept malware that copied the authentication credentials of a single compromised Mac, then spread throughout the network by pretending to be an administrator machine. Stamos said hackers could rapidly collect hundreds of passwords using this exploit.

Big enterprises have to assume some percentage of their computers will be infected with malware, Stamos told The Register, so he and his colleagues advised larger companies against implementing sizeable Mac networks.

But Stamos’s warning might come too late for some companies. In response to a recent hack, Google reportedly undertook a large-scale transition from Windows PCs to Macs running OS X, The Register reports.

Apple computers are historically more secure than Windows machines, but lately hackers have set their sights on increasingly popular Apple systems. Earlier this year, fraudsters launched a phishing attack against Mac users, luring them to click on malicious links advertising bogus computer security software.